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It Will Take 6 Weeks To Return Power To Jefferson Parish After Ida Hit, Official Says

Traffic gets diverted around downed power lines on Monday in Metairie, La. Hurricane Ida has left scores of coastal Louisiana residents trapped by floodwaters and without electricity.
Traffic gets diverted around downed power lines on Monday in Metairie, La. Hurricane Ida has left scores of coastal Louisiana residents trapped by floodwaters and without electricity.

Updated August 30, 2021 at 12:41 PM ET

It will take at least six weeks to return power to a large section of Louisiana's coast because of the damage wrought by Hurricane Ida, Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Joe Valiente told NPR on Monday.

"Damage is incredible" from what was a Category 4 storm, Valiente said, describing hundreds of trees that crashed onto power lines, houses and streets after being uprooted by Ida's strong winds.

"There are about 10 parishes that the electrical grids are completely collapsed and damaged, smashed, out — however you want to put it," he added in an interview with NPR's A Martínez.

Jefferson Parish is now under a mandatory curfew through 6 a.m. CT Tuesday.

The damage to the area includes a main electricity tower that collapsed into the Mississippi River, severing a crucial link between supply stations and five parishes, Valiente said. The Coast Guard has halted river traffic near the tower until a salvage operation can pull a tangle of power lines out of the water.

In another calamity, a barge, a tugboat and a 100-foot trawler all struck a bridge, which will now likely have to be scrapped, he said, adding that all three vessels sank.

"This was far more extensive than I think" the experts were warning, Valiente said.

One bit of good news, he added, was that the region's levee system held up well, with only minor problems.

Jefferson Parish stretches from Lake Pontchartrain to Grand Isle in the coastal area where Ida made landfall with 150-mph winds around midday Sunday.

"Virtually every person that we've spoken to in Metairie, in Jefferson Parish, has sustained considerable roof damage," Valiente said.

Emergency rescue and recovery teams are now using high-water vehicles and other equipment to check on people who weathered the storm.

"They will be going door to door and checking to see if anyone's there, what they find — exactly what we did during Katrina [16 years earlier]," Valiente said.


This story originally published in the Morning Edition liveblog.

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