Smith Sisters LaPlace Louisiana
This Louisiana family lost their mom in Hurricane Ida. Here's why they aren't going anywhere
03:28 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

About 14,000 people in one Louisiana parish are without homes after Hurricane Ida damaged or destroyed 75 percent of the structures there, Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson said Monday.

“We are working feverishly, as hard as we can to get all people what they need to keep their lives going and to rebuild our community,” Chaisson told CNN’s Aliysn Camerota.

The parish remains under a curfew, and power likely won’t be restored until around September 29, according to regional energy provider Entergy.

Chaisson also addressed the deaths of seven people after being evacuated from seven nursing homes to a warehouse in Tangipahoa Parish. One of those nursing homes is in Lafourche Parish.

“These nursing homes have an emergency plan so that when we call mandatory evacuation and they know they have to leave, they have a safe place to put their residents,” Chaisson told CNN. “In this case that didn’t happen.”

State Sen. Kirk Talbot told CNN affiliate WDSU he wants to require backup generators at nursing homes and said it will be the first bill he will file next year.

Louisiana State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter on Saturday ordered the immediate closure of the nursing homes pending further regulatory action.

Parts of Louisiana are under flash flood watch

Louisiana residents who have been without power since Hurricane Ida hit last week could see more severe weather.

Parts of southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, including Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Gulfport, are under a heat advisory, as high temperatures will be in the upper 80s and lower 90s, with a heat index between 100 and 105 degrees.

In addition, a flash flood watch is in effect in the region through the evening Monday as slow-moving thunderstorms are expected to develop. These storms are expected to produce widespread heavy rain of 2 to 3 inches in a short period of time, which will likely lead to flash flooding due to soils already saturated with water.

Meanwhile, about 486,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana still do not have electricity, according to PowerOutage.US. The lack of power, excess heat and issues with water and fuel have made the ongoing conditions dangerous.

“We have seen a lot of folks getting heatstroke and other illnesses from not having access to medicine,” St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell told CNN on Monday. “That’s why we worked real hard this week to get a lot of our pharmacies opened up. That’s why we’ve been working with the Sheriff’s Office to make sure we do wellness checks on our elderly population because you just can’t sit in this type of heat for extended periods of time.”

In Tangipahoa Parish, residents in need of shelter are being taken to facilities in other parishes because of the ongoing outages.

“There is no facilities available, with the damage to the schools and the lack of power for those facilities,” said Dawson Primes, Tangipahoa Parish homeland security and emergency management director.

Communities all along Ida’s path – from Louisiana to New York – are still working to recover more than a week after the storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Though it weakened into a tropical depression as it reached the Northeast, its heavy rains still brought devastation to the region.

In both regions, roadways turned to rivers, lives were lost and structures were destroyed by strong winds and rising waters. The recovery and repair could last weeks in some places, officials said.

President Joe Biden issued a major disaster declaration for five counties in New York and six counties in New Jersey, a designation that allows for federal assistance, state officials said.

In the New York borough of Queens those impacted by the storm were seeking resources Sunday to help in the recovery. Some needed help getting their utilities back, some needed help with the water damage and others needed assistance with the emotional traumas.

“If you drive around Queens, it looks like a bomb went off. Everybody’s personal belongings are out on the street and we’ve seen what it looks like down south after a hurricane. This is what Queens looks like today. It’s horrible,” Queens resident Barbara Amarantinis told CNN.

Due to climate change, destruction like that seen in both the Gulf and East Coast from extreme weather will be “our new normal,” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell warned Sunday.

“This is the crisis of our generation, these impacts that we are seeing from climate change, and we have to act now to try to protect against the future risks that we are going to face,” Criswell said during an interview on Fox Sunday morning.

Hundreds of thousands without electricity in Louisiana

Michael Szeplaki helps to clean up his family's vacation house in the wake of Hurricane Ida on Saturday in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

In Louisiana, not only was the damage from the storm severe, but the impact on utilities has made it even harder for many parts of the state to recover. The biggest challenge is the lack of electricity.

Portions of Jefferson Parish experienced “more busted power poles (and) down utility lines than we’ve had in history” due to Hurricane Ida, said a Saturday update from Parish Councilman Dominick Impastato.

“There’s not a neighborhood that’s been spared, there’s not a street that’s been spared, there’s not a neighborhood that doesn’t have a massive amount of split power poles,” said Impastato.

The lack of power has led to cascading infrastructure issues: a shortage of fuel, lack of water pressure and problems at water treatment plants. Hospitals and some homes and businesses have tried to rely on generators, but that poses its own challenges, said Joe Valiente, emergency management director of Jefferson Parish.

“Right now, our government and our response capabilities are on life support because we rely totally on generated power. And of course to have generators, you have to have fuel,” Valiente told CNN. “So fuel has been short because two-thirds of our refinery capabilities were knocked out.”

Those capabilities are coming back online, but for now, the parish has limited water pressure, non-functioning traffic lights and closed stores.

“This area simply is not ready to sustain everyday normal living,” he said.

‘Once-in-a-century storm’ hits the East

Utility workers work Sunday among debris from flood damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida in Manville, New Jersey.

After surveying the damage Friday in Louisiana, the President will travel to New Jersey and New York on Tuesday to assess the impact on the East Coast, where the storm claimed the lives of at least 50 people.

Paterson, New Jersey, Mayor André Sayegh lamented the destruction, telling CNN, “As if a once-in-a-century virus wasn’t enough, we had a once-in-a-century storm.”

In Paterson alone, about 300 people had been rescued, almost 100 cars were left abandoned throughout the city and 30 families were seeking refuge at emergency shelters Saturday, Sayegh said.

Many of the efforts at rescue have been strenuous, like helping a man on the banks of the Passaic River near a bridge. Paterson Fire Chief Brian McDermott described how Paterson’s Metro Urban Strike Team drilled a hole in the concrete bridge, plowing through several layers of rebar and corrugated steel to see through to the bottom of the bridge and eventually pull the man out.

“All while the storm is raging, the winds are raging, and we’re handling a third alarm fire. An ambulance trapped with people. A hundred fifty people calling for help and we’re only 8.4 square miles – that’s a lot going on,” McDermott said, commenting on his team’s overall rescue operations.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, a mother, father, and son died by drowning in their apartment building, officials said.

Rosa Espinal, 72, and her husband Jose Torres, 71, and their 38-year-old son Jose Torres died when more than 12 feet of water drenched their apartment in a residential complex, city spokesperson Kelly Martins told CNN on Friday. Their neighbor, 33-year-old Shakia Garrett, also drowned, Martins said

In New York, the initial assessment of the damage Ida left behind is estimated as at least $50 million, Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.

Displaced New Yorkers will be eligible for temporary housing assistance funds, unemployment assistance, legal services, crisis counseling and home repairs, she said.

CNN’s Steve Almasy, Melissa Alonso, Haley Brink, Rick Hall, Jason Hoffman, Sarah Jorgensen, Elizabeth Joseph, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Polo Sandoval and Linh Tran contributed to this report.