The death toll from Hurricane Ida, which slammed Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 storm Sunday, is expected to rise “considerably” as search and rescue crews branch out, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday.
“We have one confirmed death. I don’t want to tell you what I’m hearing because what I’m hearing points to a lot more than that,” Bel Edwards said on NBC’s Today Show.
“I will leave it here: I am certain that as the day goes on we will have more deaths,” he said. “We’re going to be getting information throughout the day that I fully expect that the confirmed death total to go up considerably.”
Bel Edwards said a “robust” search and rescue effort was launched around 3 a.m., with “hundreds and hundreds” of first responders looking for survivors using 195 high-water vehicles, 73 boars and 34 aircraft.
He said the effort has been hampered by fallen trees and downed wires.
In addition, more than 5,000 National Guard troops have been deployed.
The storm also left more than 1 million without power and many residents in Southeast Louisiana, including New Orleans, were left stranded thanks to the storm surge.
However, the governor said the 1 million outages represent utility accounts — and said the actual number of people without power is likely closer to 2 million.
“This storm packed a really powerful punch,” Bel Edwards said. “We’re going to be responding to this hurricane for quite a while, and then we’re going to be recovering from it for months.”
Ida hit Louisiana exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina leveled the Bayou State, killing more than 1,800 people and causing $125 billion dollars in damage.
Ida packed stronger winds than Katrina but the 2005 storm was “more expansive,” experts told NBC News Monday.
Katrina also caught New Orleans off guard, overflowing levees that flooded about 80 percent of the city.
Bel Edwards said Sunday that $14 billion has since been invested in the state’s infrastructure since Katrina, with comparatively minimal levee damage from Ida.
Among those that were compromised was a levee in Alliance, about 20 miles southeast of New Orleans, which prompted officials to issue an evacuation order for local residents in a Facebook post.
With Post wires