â€œNext stop, I donâ€™t really …â€ he said, trailing off. â€œWeâ€™ve just been living day by day.â€
Both Dulac and Houma are in Terrebonne Parish, among the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana battered to an unprecedented degree by Hurricane Ida. Though Louisianaâ€™s largest electric utility, Entergy, estimates most residents in New Orleans will have power by Wednesday, recovery efforts outside of the city could be a much longer slog.
Meanwhile, residents continue to face food, water and gas shortages while battling heat and humidity.
Some parishes outside New Orleans were battered for hours by winds of 100 mph (160 kph) or more.
Fully restoring electricity to some of these southeastern parishes could take until the end of the month, according to Entergy President and CEO Phillip May.
Ida damaged or destroyed more than 22,000 power poles, more than hurricanes Katrina, Zeta and Delta combined, an impact May called â€œstaggering.â€ More than 5,200 transformers failed and nearly 26,000 spans of wire â€” the stretch of transmission wires between poles â€” were down.
By Saturday morning, power was restored to about 282,000 customers from the peak of 902,000 who lost power after Ida.
Jay Breaux wipes sweat from his eyes after going through his hurricane destroyed home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/John Locher)Outside of Dulac, 45-year-old shrimper Jay Breaux stood in front of his home, snapped open by the storm. Breaux could see a bed exposed through a cratered wall and a lawn chair dangling from the debris. But he smiled widely, saying his family wasnâ€™t doing as badly as others.
â€œIt donâ€™t pay to cry about it,â€ he said of Ida, the latest storm to hit his small town along the bayou. â€œI got 10 or 12 of them things under my belt. But this one here is the worst.â€
At least 16 deaths were blamed on the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In the Northeast, Idaâ€™s remnants dumped record-breaking rain and killed at least 50 people from Virginia to Connecticut.
Louisianaâ€™s 12 storm-related deaths included five nursing home residents evacuated ahead of the hurricane along with hundreds of other seniors to a warehouse in Louisiana, where health officials said conditions became unsafe.
On Saturday evening, State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter ordered the immediate closure of the seven nursing facilities that sent residents to the Tangipahoa Parish warehouse facility.
â€œThe lack of regard for these vulnerable residentsâ€™ wellbeing is an affront to human dignity. We have lost trust in these nursing homes to provide adequate care for their residents,â€ Kanter said.
As recovery efforts continued, state officials were monitoring a system of disturbed weather in Mexicoâ€™s Bay of Campeche, which appeared set to move into the central Gulf of Mexico closer to Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday the state is planning an exercise to assess its emergency response if needed. Predictions so far donâ€™t show the system strengthening into a hurricane, but he said â€œeven if itâ€™s a tropical storm, weâ€™re in no state to receive that much rainfall at this time.â€
â€œWe canâ€™t take the playbook we normally use because the people and assets are no longer where they would have been,â€ Edwards said. â€œHow do you staff up shelters you need for the new storm and continue to test for COVID? My headâ€™s getting painful just thinking about it. … We will be as ready as we can be, but Iâ€™m praying we donâ€™t have to deal with that.â€
The lower Mississippi River reopened to all vessel traffic in New Orleans and key ports throughout southeastern Louisiana after power lines from a downed transmission tower were removed, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city would offer transportation starting Saturday to any resident looking to leave the city and get to a public shelter.
By the end of Saturday, city agencies conducting wellness checks had evacuated hundreds of people out of eight senior living complexes where officials deemed conditions unfit for living. The coronerâ€™s office is investigating four post-storm deaths that occurred at three of those facilities.
In suburban New Orleans, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto urged people â€œto calm downâ€ as he announced Saturday that a man wanted in the shooting death a day earlier of another man during a dispute in a line at a gas station was in custody.
Meanwhile Saturday, Coast Guard cleanup crews were responding to a sizable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the storm. The spill, which is ongoing, appears to be coming from an underwater source at an offshore drilling lease about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.