Associated Press: HOUMA, Louisiana — Full restoration of electricity to some of the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana battered to an unprecedented degree by Hurricane Ida could take until the end of the month, the head of Entergy Louisiana warned Saturday.
At least 16 deaths were blamed on the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Ida damaged or destroyed more than 22,000 power poles, more than hurricanes Katrina, Zeta and Delta combined, an impact Entergy President and CEO Phillip May called “staggering.”
More than 5,200 transformers failed and nearly 26,000 spans of wire — the stretch of transmission wires between poles — were down.
“The level of devastation makes it quite difficult or near impossible to get in and fully assess some places,” said May of five southeastern Louisiana parishes facing the longest delays.
The company is estimating full power restoration by September 29 or even longer for some customers, although May said that was a “no later than” date with the hope of earlier restoration.
About a quarter of New Orleans residents have had power restored, including all the city’s hospitals, and the city’s 27 substations are ready to serve customers, said Deanna Rodriguez, Entergy New Orleans president and CEO.
Most customers should have power back by Wednesday, Entergy said.
As of Saturday morning, 97% of damage assessment was complete and power restored to about 282,000 customers from the peak of 902,000 who lost power after Ida.
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 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.
It already began moving some residents out of senior homes.
With temperatures in the 90s Saturday, many New Orleans residents still without power looked for ways to stay cool.