Associated Press: September 5, 2021 – The US death toll from Hurricane Ida rose towards 60 on Saturday, nearly a week after one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the US mainland made landfall in Louisiana. Two more evacuated nursing home residents were confirmed to have died in the southern state.
In north-eastern states, many started the Labor Day holiday weekend digging through debris left by floods and tornadoes on Wednesday and Thursday which killed at least 50 people and caused public transportation to grind to a halt.
In New York City, operators promised to restore some commuter lines before the start of the work week on Tuesday.
In Louisiana, the confirmed storm-related death toll rose to nine. With more than 1 million without electricity, many were forced into long lines at gas stations to find fuel for generators. Providers have said most but not all Louisiana residents affected will have power again by the middle of next week.
The newly reported deaths were among evacuated nursing home residents at a Tangipahoa Parish warehouse under state investigation after reports of squalid conditions. The state health department said: “This brings the death toll of nursing home residents evacuated to this facility to six.”
Authorities were also seeking a suspect after a man was shot dead during a dispute on Friday at a gas station in Metairie, said the Jefferson parish sheriff, Joseph Lopinto.
“For somebody to lose their life over getting gas is absolutely ridiculous,” Lopinto said.
Hot weather continued in Louisiana nearly a week after Ida made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, downing trees and power lines with wind gusts that reached 172mph.
The US coast guard said on Saturday cleanup crews were responding to a sizable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The spill, which is ongoing, appears to be coming from a source underwater at an offshore drilling lease about two miles south of Port Fourchon. The growing oil slick appears to have remained out to sea and has not impacted the Louisiana shoreline.
A coast guard spokesman, Lt John Edwards, said the pollution is believed to be crude oil from an undersea pipeline owned by Talos Energy. Brian Grove, spokesman for the Houston-based company, said it had hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the spill even though the company believes it is not responsible.
Clean Gulf Associates, a nonprofit cooperative, responded to the scene on Wednesday, placing a containment boom. The company’s vessels are also running skimmers that can remove oil from water, though the coast guard said only about 42 gallons had been removed so far.
In the north-east, Ida proved lethal in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, where at least 26 people died, the most of any state. Most drowned after vehicles were caught in flash floods.
On Saturday authorities searched for two friends, Nidhi Rana, 18, and Ayush Rana, 21, missing since Wednesday after their car was caught in the Passaic River.
The White House said Joe Biden would survey storm damage in New York City and Manville, New Jersey, on Tuesday.
After touring a flood-wrecked apartment complex on the banks of the Raritan River in Piscataway on Saturday, the New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, warned about contaminants left behind.
“You have to assume the worst,” he said. “If you’re in there, you want to have windows and doors open.”
A record 3in of rain poured down in an hour in New York City on Wednesday. By Thursday nearly 7 1/2in had fallen, according to the National Weather Service. Eleven people died in flooded basement apartments.
On Saturday, the city opened service centers to connect people with housing, food and counseling. Seventy-seven people displaced by the storm were housed in hotels, Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Christina Farrell said.
In Connecticut, funeral arrangements were set for Brian Mohl, a state police sergeant swept away with his vehicle while on duty in Woodbury.
The north-east may not be completely in the clear, with Hurricane Larry intensifying about 1,055 miles east of the Leeward Islands.
“Higher swells could approach the north-east coast by the end of the week, with Larry staying offshore,” said Bob Oravec, of the National Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.
- Top Feature Photo: A homeowner in Milburn, New Jersey. The White House said Joe Biden would survey storm damage in New York City and New Jersey on Tuesday – Craig Ruttle/AP