Sid Padil, visiting from San Francisco, was surprised by the devastation and the bands of blue tarps on the rooftops of the city of New Orleans, in the southern United States of Louisiana, which is slowly coming back to life after the Hurricane Ida passed with extreme winds nearly two weeks ago. .
Padil was checking gas stations and convenience stores he owns in Louisiana and Mississippi. He struggled to find a place to eat, and when he did, the customers were mostly locals and salvage workers.
“I don’t see a lot of tourists right now,” Padil told The Associated Press.
On Bourbon Street in the heart of New Orleans, food trucks deliver beer again, and the famous Café Du Monde serves donuts – fried pastries coated in white sugar – although there isn’t much. tourists or locals to share.
Almost all power is restored to New Orleans and the city of 1.3 million people is showing signs of a return after the Category 4 storm that brought in winds of 240 km / h (150 mph) and is responsible for more than two dozen deaths. in Louisiana.
More businesses are opening their doors every day, gasoline is easier to find, and many roads are lined with huge piles of debris from clean-up work.
But thousands of people still struggle without electricity or water outside the metropolitan area, and officials say the sweltering heat contributes to both health problems and misery. It could still be weeks before power is restored to some areas, and many residents who evacuated have not returned.
“It is not lost on anyone here at the state level and certainly not on our local partners how many people continue to suffer,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.
“As things improve and we can be thankful for that… it will be a very long term recovery.”
But more than 270,000 homes and businesses remained without power, according to the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
In Jefferson Parish, outside the city, 46,000 homes and businesses were still without power, Phillip May, chief executive of Entergy Louisiana, the state’s largest electricity supplier, said Thursday.
Progress is being made in hard-hit places, including LaPlace, a town in St John the Baptist parish where service has been restored to a hospital, May said.
Other parts of Louisiana’s health system, which were hit by cases of COVID-19 before the storm, are in trouble. Executives at Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest healthcare provider, estimated that it would take about four weeks for two of its damaged hospitals to be fully operational.
“Heat sickness is of great concern,” said Dr. Robert Hart, Ochsner’s chief medical officer. Hart said emergency rooms have seen several patients stricken with carbon monoxide, a common problem after large storms as people use gas generators for electricity, sometimes indoors.
About three-quarters of U.S. oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains offline after Ida forced oil companies to evacuate and shut down offshore platforms, according to a Houston Chronicle newspaper article.
Several refineries and petrochemical plants remain closed, with no electricity and no schedule to restart production. Other oil and gas producers sustained significant damage from Ida’s 240 km / h winds, according to the report.
Around New Orleans, progress was visible as the lights came back on and piles of debris lined the streets. Residents returning home piled wet mattresses, fractured wood, tree branches and other storm debris along the edges.
The company overseeing the response to a large oil spill caused by Hurricane Ida said a containment dome was placed over a broken undersea pipeline, preventing flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
Houston-based Talos Energy said in a statement that its oil spill contractor installed the containment dome on the evening of September 6, allowing the recovery of oil from the sheared 30 cm diameter (1 foot of diameter). pipe and transfer it to surface vessels.