Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana and Mississippi, death toll rises to 4

Two people were killed and at least 10 were injured when their cars fell into a deep hole at the site of a highway collapse after Hurricane Ida passed through Mississippi.

The loss of life in Mississippi brings the death toll from Ida to four. In Louisiana, one person died as a result of flooding and one as a result of a falling tree.

In Slidell, Louisiana, crews were searching for a 71-year-old man whose wife said he was attacked by an alligator in the floodwaters. She said she dragged him out onto the steps of the house and swam for help, but when she returned, he was gone.

On Tuesday, New Orleans sat without power for a second day after the elements, “Ida,” swept through southeast Louisiana, causing severe damage and widespread power outages.

As temperatures approached 32C, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a heat warning, saying the following: “The lack of some basic services in high heat indices can make the situation very acute.”

Hundreds of thousands of people suffered from the heat wave without electricity or running water. People were removing rotting food from their refrigerators. Neighbors shared generators and used buckets of pool water to wash themselves or flush toilets. Long lines formed at the few gas stations that had fuel and generators to pump it.

Authorities gave no specific indication of when the power would return, but Entergy’s energy supplier warned that it could take up to three weeks.

“I can’t tell you when power will be restored,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told reporters Monday. “I can’t tell you when all the debris will be removed and repairs will be made. But I can tell you that we will work hard every day to provide as much help as we can.”

The governor said 25,000 utility workers are on the ground to help restore power, and more are on the way.

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, said that “more than 6,000 National Guardsmen from several states” are “helping with rescue and relief efforts” in Louisiana, Mississippi and surrounding areas.

In Mississippi, authorities said drivers who died Monday night may not have noticed that the roadway had disappeared.

“Some of these cars were stacked on top of each other,” said Cal Robertson of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Seven vehicles, including a motorcycle, were involved in the accident. A crane was brought in to lift them out of the hole.

WDSU-TV reported that state patrol officers, rescue workers and rescue crews arrived at Highway 26 west of Lucedale, about 60 miles northeast of Biloxi, and found both the east and west lanes of traffic had failed. Robertson said the hole was about 50 to 60 feet long and 20 to 30 feet deep.

More than 8 inches of rain fell in the area during the Ida, according to the National Weather Service.

On Sunday, Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm, one of the most powerful ever to hit the mainland United States, knocking out power, tearing roofs off buildings and altering the flow of the Mississippi River.

In southwest Mississippi, entire neighborhoods were surrounded by floodwaters and many roads became impassable. Several tornadoes were reported, including a suspected tornado in Saraland, Alabama, that tore part of the roof off a motel and overturned an 18-wheeler truck, injuring the driver.

On Monday, Joe Biden held a virtual meeting with Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Louisiana Governor Edwards and the mayors of the cities and parishes most affected by Hurricane Ida. The president received an update on the aftermath of the hurricane and discussed how the federal government can help.

“We are coordinating closely with state and local officials every step of the way,” Biden said.

On Tuesday, remnants of Hurricane Ida brought downpours from the Gulf Coast states to New England.

Weakened to a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph, “Ida” was centered over northern Mississippi and Tennessee. NWS said flash flooding was most likely in central Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and western Maryland, where 6 to 10 inches of rain could fall.

Forecasters also warned of strong wind gusts and said that Ida is likely to cause tornadoes in eastern Alabama, western Georgia and Florida.

Meanwhile, forecasters discovered a new storm system offshore. Forecasters reported that another tropical depression is forming off the coast of Africa, heading across the Atlantic a couple hundred miles west-southwest of the coast of Guinea.

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