Louisiana has been hit by looting in the wake of Hurricane Ida – amid fears crime could spiral in New Orleans and other cities after energy suppliers warned that power will be out for around three weeks as utility crews work to restore more than 2,000 miles of downed energy lines across the state.
A group of men were caught by a drone camera trying to rob an ATM machine in the scorched remains of a market in the New Orleans neighborhood of St. Claude.
In another incident, witnesses used their cell phone to record several people looting a store in New Orleans East.
Looters often take advantage of disasters like Ida and New Orleans is all too familiar with this as it became a hotbed of criminal activity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago.
However, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a press conference Monday that the city is cracking down on looting and all offenders will be charged with a state felony.
She said, ‘My directive has been very clear: lock ’em up. We will not tolerate and we have not tolerated it.’
Police Chief Shaun Ferguson added that the department deployed a group of ‘anti-looting’ officers and is working with the Louisiana National Guard to protect businesses from looters.
Louisiana has been hit by a number of looting cases in the wake of Hurricane Ida and Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a press conference Monday that the city is cracking down on looting and all offenders will be charged with a state felony
Cantrell noted that looting is nowhere near as bad as it may seem, stating, ‘there is no widespread looting going on in the city of New Orleans. What we do have that’s widespread are residents who are being neighbors, who are understand and exhibiting the spirit of humility, of empathy, who are cleaning up their lawns and who are servicing their community. That’s widespread in the city of New Orleans, that’s who we are.’
Nevertheless, the city has already made ‘several arrests’ involving looters, Ferguson said and urged residents to report looting when they see it.
‘It is also incumbent upon the community to lean in and lean forward and say this is not the time,’ he said. ‘Right now we are going through some trying times and we need to really pull ourselves through this together.’
So far, at least one person was taken into custody for looting the Dollar General in New Orleans East.
CBS News reporter Beau Zimmer posted the photos from the scene on Twitter, which revealed the interior of the trashed store and the parking lot outside littered by overturned shopping carts with merchandise spilling out of them.
A group of looters were caught in drone footage trying to loot a destroyed market in New Orleans on Monday
It is not clear if the pair from the drone video were apprehended or got away with any cash from the ATM machine
The city has already made ‘several arrests’ involving looters, Ferguson said and urged residents to report looting when they see it
Two men were detained by a Jefferson Parish deputy after being caught allegedly taking cigarettes from a convenience store in Bridge City
It is not clear if the pair from the drone video were apprehended or got away with any cash from the ATM machine they are seen in the footage trying to pry open.
One of the men in the video is seen toying with the machine. Another stands beside him and sees the drone before turning his back and leaving the destroyed business.
The video, which was posted to Twitter by WXChasing (Brandon Clement), has yielded 19,100 views and is captioned, ‘The moment looters realize a drone is watching them try to break into an ATM [machine] in burned down St. Claude market in the lower 9th ward.’
The New Orleans Fire Department also posted several photos of the market in St. Claude after it had burned down in the aftermath of the storm, but did not explain what caused the fire and if the business owners were there when it happened.
The damage from Hurricane Ida is still being assessed and President Joe Biden recently warned that the death toll – which currently stands at one person – will rise as the human cost of the storm that ravaged the state began to emerge.
Speaking on a conference call to governors affected by the extreme weather event Monday, the president warned he expected the number of people found killed as a result of Ida to rise considerably
Biden echoed Edwards. Speaking on MSNBC on Monday, the governor warned that more bad news lies ahead as search and rescue efforts continued in the wake of Sunday’s Category 4 hurricane.
He said: ‘I don’t want to mislead anyone. Robust search and rescue is happening right now and I fully expect that that death count will go up considerably throughout the day.’
Biden also urged Edwards to ‘just holler’ for help after Hurricane Ida ravaged the state.
‘We’re providing any help that you’re going to need,’ the president told Louisiana and Mississippi mayors and governors during a conference call Monday afternoon as Ida made its way north.
He said the federal government has sent 200 generators to the area as one million people remain without power in the wake of the hurricane.
The president added that he has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to authorize the use of drones to assess Ida’s damage to energy infrastructure.
Biden said he has also ordered the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to make available any satellite imagery that could help assess the extent of the damage.
At least one person was taken into custody for looting the Dollar General in New Orleans East
CBSNews reporter Beau Zimmer posted the photos from the scene on Twitter, which revealed the interior of the trashed store
Outside of the Dollar General was an abandoned shopping cart filled with goods
The parking lot outside the store was littered by overturned shopping carts with merchandise spilling out of them
Additionally, he said, he is activating cooperative cellphone access so that if one cellphone carrier loses service, their customers in the area can temporarily switch to another cellphone carrier. That came after AT&T announced its network had gone down for 40 per cent of customers in Louisiana, which, combined with power shortages for 1 million people, made life a nightmare for hard-hit residents trying to make emergency calls or work from home.
‘We’re going to stand with you and the people of the Gulf as long as it takes you to recover,’ Biden told the local elected official, saying ‘we’re providing any help that you may need.’
‘Folks get knocked down, we’re there to help you get back on your feet,’ Biden said before telling Edwards directly: ‘If there’s anything else you need, you know just call, just holler.’
Biden’s conference call later sparked controversy after he used the word ‘boy’ to describe his senior adviser Cedric Richmond, who is black.
The president faced casual racism allegations over the remark, which saw him say: ‘I’m here with my senior adviser and boy who knows Louisiana very, very well and New Orleans, Cedric Richmond
His remarks come after Ida left 1.043 million people without power in Louisiana and another 115,000 in the same situation in Mississippi as it dumped torrential rain on the area, flooding much of New Orleans before being downgraded to a tropical storm Monday.
One person, a 60-year-old man, has been confirmed dead. He has not been named and was killed after a tree fell on his home in Prairieville, Louisiana, on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the human cost of Ida began to emerge on Monday, after a famed New Orleans tailor shop where jazz legend Louis Armstrong once lived was among buildings destroyed.
Karnofsky Tailor Shop and Residence, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was reduced to a pile of bricks and rubble by Ida.
It started out as a tailor shop in 1913, and Armstrong ‘worked for the Karnofskys on their coal and junk wagons, tooting ‘a small tin horn’ and ate meals with the family,’ who eventually gave him money for his first concert.
‘Louis said it was the Karnofskys that instilled the love of singing in his heart,’ John McCusker, a retired journalist who supported the efforts to get the store historically landmarked, told WWL.
The Karnofsys’ son, Morris, would go on to open the first jazz record store in town and the Register of Historic Places says, ‘Armstrong visited his friend and musician buddies at the store on his many return trips to the city.’
Another apartment building in Kenner, Louisiana burned overnight after the storm struck it.
And Dartanian Stovall was pictured distraught outside his home in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Monday after it was destroyed by the storm while he was renovating it.
Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said that the department deployed a group of ‘anti-looting’ officers and is working with the Louisiana National Guard to protect businesses from looters
He said the chimney fell first, and the rest of the house followed.
Fortunately, he managed to crawl to safety. Stovall, who was pictured surveying the wreckage of his home with his hands clasped to his head, said: ‘At least I’m alive,’ as he surveyed the damage on Monday.
Cynthia Lee Cheng – mayor of Jefferson Parish – also outlined the horror faced by some of her neighbors currently trapped in attics in the trashed town of Lafitte.
She said: ‘This is an area if you want to think of it like swampland, there’s alligators out there.
Door-to-door searches are currently underway in Jefferson County, using boats in badly-flooded areas. Louisiana has also activated 5,000 National Guard members.
A US Army spokesman said 195 high-water vehicles and 73 rescue boats had been prepped and staged across south Louisiana to aid door-to-door search attempts. The National Guard has also organized 34 helicopters to support search and rescue, evacuation and reconnaissance missions as needed.
All of New Orleans lost power around sunset on Sunday, leaving people without refrigeration and air conditioning in the hot summer weather, as they used flashlights to search through the damage as the storm passed by around dawn.
Figures from power supplier Entergy confirmed that 144,000 homes were without power in the Big Easy. A further 195,000 are without power in nearby Jefferson Parish, while 80,000 are without power in St Tammany Parish.
The power cuts spelt bad news for Louisianans trying to work from home, and there was further misery for many on Monday, when cellphone and internet provider AT&T reported that 40 per cent of its network was down in the state due to Ida.
Search and rescue operations began at around 3 a.m., with the Louisiana National Guard going door to door to check on residents, many of whom are still stuck on the second-floor or the attics of their homes.
The United States Coast Guard also helped evacuate seven patients from a southern Louisiana hospital, Edwards said Monday afternoon.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam also tweeted that the state has deployed 35 members of Virginia Task Force 2 to the area and Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Monday the state was sending 132 firefighters, 30 fire engines, 14 crew members and a helicopter to Louisiana, with the Texas A&M Task Force One providing urban search and rescue capabilities.
‘The State of Texas is proud to support our neighbors in Louisiana by sending emergency resources and personnel to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida,’ Abbott said in a statement.
‘We will never forget the kindness, generosity and support offered by the people of Louisiana during Hurricane Harvey four years ago, and we are eager to support them in their own time of need.’
But the Louisiana State Police told residents on Facebook ‘it may be difficult to get help to you for quite some time,’ as communication is limited in certain areas.
The State Police noted that as troopers continue to clear roadways ‘the full extent of damage is yet to be seen,’ and search and rescue workers still cannot get to certain areas.
The US Coast Guard shared this photo online of a helicopter surveying the damage in the wake of the hurricane
‘A large portion of travel routes are blocked by down trees and power lines,’ they wrote. ‘In addition, there is standing water in some areas, which can deteriorate roads and sweep vehicles away. Debris is also scattered throughout the area, which can make navigating our roadways very difficult.’
They asked residents to refrain from traveling at this time ‘as it is these dangerous conditions that can create additional emergencies that could be prevented.’
A total of 950,000 homes have lost power across Louisiana as of Monday morning, with another 100,000 without electricity in Mississippi as the 911 system in Orleans Parish experienced technical difficulties for a second day in a row.
When the storm was at its strongest on Sunday, its winds raged at 150mph and picked up to just below 157mph – which would make it a Category 5 storm – and had it tie as the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the US mainland, according to the Associated Press.
Within the storm’s first 20 hours, Louisiana saw a maximum of 17 inches of rainfall in an area just west of New Orleans, according to a tweet from Greg Carbin of NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center. As rainfall continues, the National Weather Service predicts that Ida could reach a total of 24 inches of rain.
Ida is now set to move across Mississippi – sparking flood warnings for that state though Tuesday. The tropical storm warning for Louisiana was discontinued by late Monday morning.
The weather event will cross the north east tip of Alabama and into Tennessee in the early hours of Tuesday, with locals warned to prepare for flash floods caused by heavy rain, and winds of up to 60mph.
It will move into the north east on Thursday. And while the extreme weather event will have substantially weakened in power by then, Ida is still expected to dump three inches of water across much of the area.
People in areas including New England – whose soils were saturated by rainwater during Tropical Storm Henri last week – fear any more sudden inundations could cause flash flooding.
The power outage in New Orleans was caused by a tower toppled by Ida, with energy suppliers warning that power will be off indefinitely while damage assessments are carried out – and that locals could face weeks before it returns.
Entergy confirmed the only power in New Orleans was coming from generators, the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Energy Preparedness tweeted, citing ‘catastrophic transmission damage.’ The city relies on Entergy for backup power for the pumps for the levees.
That has sparked fears locals could poison themselves by attempting to use the generators – which emit dangerous carbon monoxide – in poorly ventilated indoor areas.
Edwards said hospitals, many of which are overrun with COVID patients, will have priority in power restoration.
The Category Four storm caused all eight transmission lines into New Orleans to go down, and created a load imbalance that knocked all power generation into the region offline, Entergy spokesman Brandon Scardigli said in a statement to Nola.com.
He said the company is working to ‘assess a path forward to restore power to those who can take it.’ But locals have warned that power could be out for weeks, given the scale of the damage that must be repaired.
Additionally, officials in Jefferson Parish said a transmission tower that provides electricity for New Orleans and the east bank of the parish collapsed into the river.
The parish’s Emergency Management Director told WVUE that cables that once hung across the Mississippi River were now buried under water.
Entergy officials tweeted on Monday that ‘it will likely take days to determine the extent of damage to our power grid’ and ‘far longer to restore electrical transmission in the region.’
New Orleans City Councilman Joe Giarrusso also said power companies’ estimates that electricity would be restored in the coming days was optimistic.
‘I think we have to be realistic at the same time, and prepare people for a worst-case scenario, just like [with] Hurricane Laura and Lake Charles, where it took weeks,’ he told CNN.
‘One of the things that we’re going to have to think, and I’m sure the city is working on right now, is for people who may not have the means – how could we get them to where they need, so they are safe’ as people may run out of food and water in the coming days.
Meanwhile, there were reports that the levees – which had been upgraded since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area exactly 16 years ago – once again failed or were overtopped, leaving houses flooded with saturated sail turning parts of the city into a phenomenon known as brown ocean.
That sees saturated soils and swampy ground absorb very low quantities of rain water from storms or hurricanes, or none at all. The phenomenon meant Ida barely lost power after it hit the New Orleans shoreline on Sunday afternoon. Scientists say relatively warm groundwater also helped ramp up Ida’s power even more.
Ida’s strength was so ferocious that it pushed water flowing out into the Gulf of Mississippi back into the Mississippi River, causing ‘negative flow’ – water flowing backwards, Army Corps of Engineers Spokesman Ricky Boyette said.
There were four flash flood emergencies in place through parts of southeastern Louisiana. CNN reported, with between eight to 16 inches of rain in LaPlace, as local law enforcement reported flash flooding in Lafitte and Jean Lafitte.
A Coast Guard helicopter revealed the devastation to Louisiana’s coastal regions in the wake of the disaster
Stream gauge reports continued to show rapid rises near the stream, and a flash flood emergency for Alliance continued Monday morning due to levee failure near Highway 23.
The National Weather Service warned these are extremely dangerous and life-threatening situations.
‘Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.’
Anyone needing emergency help was urged to go to their nearest fire station or approach their nearest officer.
Some people also took to social media to post their addresses and locations, asking for help, with officials promising rescue efforts would begin in the early morning hours of Monday, as it moved into Mississippi.
In a Sunday news conference, Edwards said rescue crews would not be able to immediately help those who were stranded, and warned the state could see weeks of recovery.
‘Many, many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,’ he said, but added: ‘There is always light after darkness, and I can assure you we are going to get through this.’
Rescue operations began around 3 a.m. Monday, the governor said in his interview with MSNBC, with 900 search and rescue personnel from 16 different states assisting with the efforts as some residents continue to shelter on the second-floors of their homes or in their attics.
Matthew Marchetti, a spokesman for Houston-based nonprofit Crowdsource Rescue, said the group had rescued about 150 people out of the 1,000 reports it received in Louisiana.
The group currently has three teams operating in LaPlace and are en route to Lafitte in hopes of assisting rescue efforts there. But, he told CNN, that is going to be difficult.
‘Lafitte is a bit of a technical challenge,’ he said, calling it a ‘long boat ride because of road issues.’
Crews Monday morning assessed the damage from the storm.
‘Unfortunately, the worst case scenario seems to have happened,’ Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee said, adding that some houses are flooded with water that’s ‘beyond chest high. It’s up to the top of the roof.’
The weather conditions and power outages made it tough for teams to work overnight.
‘This is an area that has a lot of swampland, alligators, very dangerous conditions. They had to wait for the sun to come up this morning. They had a strategy,’ Lee explained to CNN.
‘We have people out there ready to clear roads. We’re going to have boats, high-water vehicles. Our first responders are ready to go. They just needed the daylight to be able to do their best work.’
She called for a mandatory curfew for all of the parish from 6am on Monday through at least 6am on Tuesday. All residents are urged to stay off the roads during this time.
The storm slammed the barrier island of Grand Isle and blew off the roofs of buildings around Port Fourchon as it made landfall early Sunday morning and churned its way through the southern Louisiana wetlands, over the state’s petrochemical corridor, threatening more than 2 million people living in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Many did not have enough money or resources to flee from the fast-approaching storm, which wreaked havoc in its wake and left many buildings destroyed.
By late Sunday, significant flooding was reported in LaPlace and in places like LaFitte, where a barge struck a swinging bridge.
The United States Coast Guard office in the region received more than a dozen reports of breakaway barges, Petty Officer Gabriel Wisdom told the Associated Press.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was also in contact with more than 1,500 oil refineries, chemical plants and other petrochemical plants, and will respond to any reported pollution leaks or petroleum spills, agency spokesman Greg Langley said.
And on Monday, LaFourche Parish officials said re-entry into the area will be delayed for up to a week ‘due to conditions created by Hurricane Ida,’ saying in a news release: ‘LaFourche Parish roads are currently unpassable and will be for some time.’
Officials said first responders will be ‘working around the clock to clear the roads for residents to return,’ as a curfew remains in affect.
The area is also under a boil water advisory, the officials said, with many residents completely without water.
And in Sidell, Louisiana, Mayor Greg Comer said, there is flooding in ‘every neighborhood in town,’ and local officials had to deploy boats to conduct water rescues on Monday.
‘In about a three-hour period, we had probably a five to six foot rise in the bayou and the lake estuary system that pushed water into a number of people’s homes on the south side of our community,’ he explained.
‘We had to deploy boats at 4:00 this morning and do water rescues,’ he told CNN, noting they had already taken 15 people off their roofs in these water rescues.
Some people also waded out into waist-deep water to flag down police officers, Comer said, ‘and we were able to get in there and find these folks, but it has been a pretty long morning for our first responders, our police officers and some of our firemen.’
He now hopes to have power back to the region in three to five days ‘which would be much, much quicker than the two weeks it took after Katrina.’
But the worst of it, he fears, may not be over.
‘As the storm goes north and the winds shift out of a southeasterly direction to a southwesterly direction, it’ll start taking and pushing all the water that’s in [Lake Pontchartrain] and it begins to stack up on our side of the lake, and we’ll see another rise in water, we think, this afternoon.’
The storm’s top wind speed on Monday was 60 mph, and forecasters expect it will weaken drastically as it dumps rain on Mississippi.
It was centered about 65 miles south-southwest of Jackson, Mississippi this morning, heading north at 8 mph with sustained winds of 45 mph.
It is expected to bring strong winds throughout the day, which could knock out the power for even more residents.
A tornado risk will also continue to the east of the center of circulation, according to FOX News, and heavy rain is going to be the biggest concern as the remnants move into the Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast in the coming days.
Three to six inches of rain is expected along Ida’s path, including through southern New England, where the ground is already saturated from Tropical Storm Henri one week ago.