Hurricane Ida caused widespread flooding in LaPlace in St. John the Baptist Parish. Biden administration officials said they also expect at least another $10 billion will be needed to address the destruction from Ida. (Photo by Julie O’Donoghue/Louisiana Illuminator)
Gov. John Bel Edwards spent Tuesday morning visiting the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. John the Baptist and conducted flyovers of Grand Isle and Lafitte to assess Hurricane Ida’s destructive wake in the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana.
“This storm was every bit as advertised,” Edwards said. “And the damage that we have seen here and that they’re dealing with is just catastrophic.”
Edwards said St. John the Baptist Parish received some of the heaviest rainfall of any other parish due to Ida, causing unprecedented flooding and requiring intense search and rescue efforts following the storm. An estimated 80 percent of all the search and rescue efforts conducted Monday were there, the governor said.
Edwards called St. John’s residents “very resilient and hardy” and said those who have chosen to stay in their homes will likely want to leave in the coming days.
“I expect that that’s going to change over the coming days because they’re going to find out that their homes are not going to be re-powered any time very soon, and they’ve got damage,” Edwards said.
The state has opened more than 30 shelters across Louisiana and is offering transportation to residents who choose to evacuate, the governor said.
Much of Louisiana’s Army National Guard remains deployed in St. John the Baptist Parish, along with multiple law enforcement agencies and state troopers from Louisiana and other states. Those military and law enforcement authorities will be conducting security operations in the parish, Edwards said.
“We’re going to be with you all for the long haul,” he said.
The governor stressed that he wants residents to understand that many of the basic life supporting infrastructure elements are not operating in St. John nor much of Southeast Louisiana. More than 1 million homes and businesses are without electricity, and more than 300,000 are also without running water, officials have said.
“If you have already evacuated, do not return here or elsewhere in Southeast Louisiana until the Office of Emergency Preparedness tells you it is ready to receive you,” Edwards said. “The schools are not open, the businesses are not open, the hospitals are slammed, there’s no water in your home, and there’s not going to be electricity. So let’s get you where you can be safe and somewhat comfortable, and if you need a hospital, we can get you to a hospital. Please don’t come home before they tell you that it’s time.”
As of Tuesday, authorities in Louisiana reported two storm-related deaths. One occurred Sunday evening when a tree fell on a man’s Ascension Parish home and killed him. The other occurred Monday in Orleans Parish when a man drowned as he tried to drive through floodwaters near Interstate 10 and West End Boulevard.
The governor said state and federal officials are working as fast as possible to set up water and food distribution points in St. John.
President Joe Biden declared Hurricane Ida a major disaster in Louisiana and authorized FEMA assistance for residents and business owners in impacted areas. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said teams have begun entering communities to help register residents who don’t have access to phone or internet service.
FEMA assistance is available to people in the following parishes:
- East Baton Rouge
- East Feliciana
- Pointe Coupee
- St. Bernard
- St. Charles
- St. Helena
- St. James
- St. John the Baptist
- St. Martin
- St. Mary
- St. Tammany
- West Baton Rouge
- West Feliciana
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