The company that provides electricity to the New Orleans area says the first lights in the region have been turned back on, about three days after Hurricane Ida made landfall and caused significant damage to the area.
Watch an update from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards:
"This is the first step in bringing power back to the metro region, after Hurricane Ida left devastating destruction in its path," Entergy said in a press release.
However, hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana are still without electricity, and Entergy cautioned that it could take a significant amount of time to turn the lights on in some areas. The company has previously said that some parts of the state could be without power for three weeks, according to CBS News.
"While initial service can be provided to some customers, the full restoration will still take time given the significant damage across the region," Entergy said. "Crews will have to methodically bring back additional transmission lines over time to provide other pathways for power to enter the region, helping to maintain stability of the system throughout the complete restoration process."
In neighboring Mississippi, which also saw significant damage from Ida, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency head Stephen McCraney said Wednesday that about 30,000 people remain without power, and electricity could be restored to the rest of the state by Friday.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that cleanup and electricity restoration could take days or even weeks, noting that the recovery process would be a marathon, not a sprint. He also urged those who had evacuated to stay away from their homes.
"If you have already evacuated, do not return here or elsewhere in Southeast Louisiana until the Office of Emergency Preparedness tells you it is ready to receive you," Edwards said. "The schools are not open, businesses are not open, the hospitals are slammed, there's not water in your home, and there's not going to be electricity. So let's get you where you can be safe and somewhat comfortable."
As of Wednesday morning, the death toll from Ida remains at four. On Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health reported that a man drowned while attempting to drive through floodwaters. Another person was killed in Ascension Parish on Sunday by a falling tree. On early Tuesday morning, two were killed and seven injured when flooding caused a stretch of highway to collapse in southern Mississippi.
Edwards said Tuesday that he expected the death toll to rise as recovery efforts continue.
As of Tuesday morning, Ida, now a tropical depression, was located above Kentucky and West Virginia. The system will continue to move northeast, bringing heavy rains to central and eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and Connecticut in the coming days.
In a Wednesday press conference, the governor offered some pieces of positive news.
“There are certain ways that we have been very blessed," said Edwards. "As I stand before you today, there are two confirmed fatalities (in Louisiana) and when you think of the sheer magnitude of the utter devastation, the fact that that’s where we are is miraculous. Now, it’s our job to make sure we don’t lose more people unnecessarily because of carbon monoxide poisoning and accidents, as so forth, and heat exhaustion.”
Edwards said the state is also lucky that the levees held up.
“They performed the way that they were supposed to,” said Edwards. “And that was the hurricane risk reduction system here in the Jefferson and Orleans area, but also federal and nonfederal levees all across southeast Louisiana. That death total would have been much, much higher had that not happened.”
The governor mentioned President Joe Biden has signed a major federal disaster declaration that he requested for the state.
“That means for the first 30 days after landfall, the federal government’s costs here will be 100% for category A, which is debris removal, and category B, which is emergency protective measures. He also approved individual assistance and public assistance,” he said.
Edwards added that anyone who is a Hurricane Ida survivor needs to apply for FEMA assistance individually by visiting disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 because it doesn’t apply automatically.