United States: Hurricane Ida Death Toll Rises as Recovery Efforts Continue

United States: Hurricane Ida Death Toll Rises as Recovery Efforts Continue

The death toll from Hurricane Ida rose to at least 50 in the northeastern United States, while authorities in southern Louisiana state, where the powerful storm first made landfall times, have worked to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people.
Seventeen deaths have been confirmed in New York state, four in Westchester County and the rest in New York, a spokeswoman for Governor Kathy Hochul said on Sunday.

Almost all of the victims in New York City, which were hit hard when Ida’s remains caused flash flooding and heavy rains in the area last week, have been trapped in illegal basement apartments which are among the latest affordable options for low income residents. .

The storm’s record rainfall sent cascading walls of water through businesses, public transportation systems and 1,200 homes, causing more than $ 50 million in damage, Hochul said.

“The human toll has been enormous,” said the governor, recounting a trip to East Elmhurst in New York’s borough of Queens to assess the devastation. “A woman cried in my arms, an 89 year old woman. She had nothing left after living in this house for over 40 years.

In New Jersey, there have been 27 confirmed storm deaths and four people are still missing, a spokesperson for Governor Phil Murphy said. More deaths in the northeast have been reported in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on August 29, causing extreme winds that knocked down trees and power lines, and cut power to more than a million people across the state. .

The storm-related death toll in Louisiana rose to 13 on Sunday, the state’s health department said on Twitter, after a 74-year-old man was reported dead “from the heat during the storm. ‘a large blackout’.

More than 630,000 homes and businesses went without power Sunday in southeast Louisiana, according to the state’s Civil Service Commission.

Many Louisiana residents continue to face shortages of food, water and gas while battling the heat and humidity a week after Ida’s strike.

Full restoration of power to some parishes in the southeast could take until the end of the month, Entergy President and CEO Phillip May said on Saturday.

Ida damaged or destroyed at least 22,000 utility poles, more than Hurricanes Katrina, Zeta and Delta combined. More than 5,200 transformers failed and nearly 26,000 spans of wire – the stretch of transmission wires between the poles – failed.

US President Joe Biden visited Louisiana on Friday to assess storm damage, pledging additional federal assistance to help the state rebuild.

“There is no substitute for seeing the devastation on the ground,” Governor John Bel Edwards noted on Twitter Sunday morning, thanking the president for his visit.

“Louisiana faces a long road to recovery, and we appreciate the help and support of our federal partners. “

As recovery efforts continued, state officials were monitoring a disrupted weather system in Mexico’s Campeche Bay, which appeared poised to move into the central Gulf of Mexico, closer to Louisiana.

So far, forecasts do not show the system to strengthen into a hurricane, but Edwards said on Saturday “Even though it is a tropical storm, we are not fit to receive as much precipitation in this. moment “.

“How do you equip the shelters you need for the new storm and keep testing COVID?” My head gets sore just thinking about it, ”Edwards said. “We will be as ready as possible, but I pray that we don’t have to face this. “

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city will provide transportation to any resident wishing to leave the city and go to a public shelter.

By the end of Saturday, city agencies carrying out welfare checks had evacuated hundreds of people to eight senior housing complexes where officials deemed conditions unfit for life. The coroner’s office is investigating four post-storm deaths at three of these facilities.

The U.S. Coast Guard said on Saturday that cleanup crews were responding to a large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the storm. A private dive team was trying to locate the source of the spill in the Marchand Bay area on Sunday.

Satellite images from the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, first reported by the Associated Press news agency on Wednesday, showed a brownish-black slick several miles long extending in coastal waters about two miles to the south. off Port Fourchon, Louisiana, an oil and gas hub.

Arlo Hemphill, Oceans Campaign Manager at Greenpeace USA, said this type of incident “happens over and over again because we are placing critical fossil fuel infrastructure in the direct line of the impacts of climate change.”

For years, scientists and other experts have argued that climate change is worsening the strength and severity of weather events, such as hurricanes and forest fires.

Hemphill told Al Jazeera on Sunday that marine life, including fish and dolphins, in affected areas would be immediately affected by the spill, while coastal communities could also face a danger of toxicity.

“It is an extremely vulnerable region,” he said. “It’s land just above sea level. Some islands are disappearing. Some communities living on coastal islands are already thinking about relocating inland. ”


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