Officials in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana estimate restoring power to residents may take upwards of six weeks after Hurricane Ida devastated the Gulf Coast. The parish covers a large part of the state’s coast line adjacent to New Orleans and has an estimated population of just over 440,000 people, according to US Census data.
“Damage is incredible,” Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Joe Valiente told NPR on Monday (August 30). He noted that power lines in the area were toppled by trees after Hurricane Ida’s 165 mph wind gusts ripped through the area Sunday (August 29).
“There are about 10 parishes that the electrical grids are completely collapsed and damaged, smashed, out –– however you want to put it,” Valiente added.
The parish is now under a mandatory curfew through 6 a.m. Tuesday (August 31). The parish’s official Twitter account warned people who evacuated the area not to return because of damage.
Among the damage is the parish’s main electricity tower which collapsed into the Mississippi River. River traffic has been halted by the Coast Guard until crews can get the tangle of power lines safely out of the water.
“This was far more extensive than I think” experts cautioned, Valiente told the outlet. He did note that the parish’s levee system held up against the storm, with only minor issues reported.
“Virtually every person” in the area, however, has “sustained considerable roof damage” Valiente said.
Search and rescue teams in high water vehicles are checking on people who did not evacuate.
“They will be going door to door and checking to see if anyone’s there, what they find –– exactly what we did during Katrina,” Valiente said, recalling harrowing rescue efforts during the storm that hit the same area 16 years ago.
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