Louisiana governor expects Hurricane Ida death toll to rise

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Louisiana governor expects Hurricane Ida death toll to rise

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.

The confirmed death toll from the monster storm, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, currently stands at one.

“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.”

The storm, which made landfall packing 150-mph winds, was so powerful that at one point it reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.

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.

Theophilus Charles sits inside his house which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ida in Houma, Louisiana.
Theophilus Charles sits inside his house, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ida in Houma, Louisiana.
REUTERS/Adrees Latif
First responders aid those who struggle to get out of flooding and hot homes after Hurricane Ida unleashes destruction on Louisiana.
First responders aid those who struggle to get out of flooding and hot homes after Hurricane Ida unleashes destruction on Louisiana.
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.

Hurricane Ida floods the streets of Kenner, Louisiana, making it impossible to flee storm-damaged houses.
Hurricane Ida floods the streets of Kenner, Louisiana, making it impossible to flee storm-damaged houses.
REUTERS/Marco Bello
The Karnofsky shop, a historic jazz building reduced to rubble after Ida makes landfall.
The Karnofsky Music Shop, a historic jazz building is reduced to rubble after Ida mades landfall.
REUTERS/Devika Krishna Kumar

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.

Jeremy Hodges salvages a light from his family's destroyed shed.
Jeremy Hodges salvages a light from his family’s destroyed shed.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
The roof of a building in New Orleans' French Quarter blown off by Ida's 150 mph winds.
The roof of a building in New Orleans’ French Quarter was blown off by Ida’s 150 mph winds.
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says that he expects COVID-19 cases and the death toll to rise as more and more people are rescued.
Gov. John Bel Edwards says that he expects COVID-19 cases and the death toll to rise as more and more people are rescued.
Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP

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

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