Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast over the weekend, knocking out power to millions of residents in Mississippi and Louisiana. Though Hurricane Ida was officially downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, authorities warn that the aftermath is still taking shape.
All of Orleans Parish –– which includes the city of New Orleans –– was without power on Sunday night (August 29) because of “catastrophic damage” to the local power company’s utility system. Entergy New Orleans, the utility company that powers New Orleans and surrounding areas, said the damage could leave residents in the hardest hit areas without power for weeks.
The only power in New Orleans at the moment is being created through generators, NPR reported. City officials and residents are concerned how the power outages will affect the pumping system that keeps water out of the city, half of which is either at or below sea level.
To complicate rescue efforts, New Orleans residents may not be able to use 9-1-1 as the city’s emergency communication system reported “technical difficulties.”
“If you find yourself in an emergency, people go to your nearest fire station or approach your nearest office,” the Orleans Parish Communication District tweeted in the early morning hours of Monday (August 30).
Additionally, the risk of death by carbon monoxide poisoning is also a concern as residents turn to generators as a power source. If used improperly, generators can release high levels of the toxic gas into the air.
Check out these safety tips for properly using portable generators from Consumer Reports.
Hurricane Ida and COVID-19
Hospitals across both states are now forced to transfer COVID-19 to other facilities as some locations are experiencing flooding and roof damage from Hurricane Ida.
The CDC recommends people –– regardless of vaccination status –– entering shelters after a natural disaster like Ida should follow facility rules which may include wearing a mask, social distancing, covering coughs, and washing hands often.
State-run COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites in Mississippi will be closed on Monday (August 30). Some locations in central and southern areas of the state will remain closed on Tuesday (August 31) or longer, the state health department said.
In Louisiana, community-based testing sites were closed Friday (August 20) and no plans about reopening have been announced yet.