“Nobody is out of the woods in southeast Louisiana yet,” said Governor John Bel Edwards on Sunday evening. Because of Hurricane Ida’s tumultuous conditions, Edwards reported that the area will not see search and rescue teams until sunrise on Monday. Already, the storm has caused the Mississippi River to flow in reverse and more than 20 barges to break free. Winds reached over 150 mph upon landfall, and the areas most affected remain to be Jefferson and St. John the Baptist Parishes.
Despite the overwhelming number of distress calls coming from the areas, Edwards shared that the situation was too risky to deploy any rescue crews. Instead, they decided they would reassess the situation by first light the following morning. So far, Hurricane Ida has claimed one life from Ascension Parish as the result of a fallen tree.
“It’s weather dependent and quite frankly, before the weather gets good enough for us to respond it’s also going to be dark,” Edwards reported. “We will be ready at first light tomorrow morning to go out to those areas that we know already have received the most damaging impacts from the storm.”
By 10 p.m. ET, Hurricane Ida weakened significantly to a Category 2 storm. However, with aerial flooding, power outages, fallen trees and other risk factors, the storm is still extremely dangerous. Therefore, the governor stated that deploying any search and rescue crews on Sunday evening would be counterproductive.
“It doesn’t help anyone to dispatch first responders on a call if you’re actually going to cause the first responder to be in a very bad situation in terms of either getting hurt or killed or just being stuck where they then have to ride it out there or you send somebody else,” Edwards told The Advocate.
Hurricane Ida Winds Weaken Dramatically on Monday
Now that Hurricane Ida has continued into Monday, the storm’s winds have weakened significantly to 60 mph. Louisiana authorities have since deployed search and rescue teams to the areas facing the most distress. That includes Jefferson Parish.
According to Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee, water levels have reached “beyond chest high. It’s up to the top of the roof.”
“Unfortunately, the worst case scenario seems to have happened,” Lee explained.
The parish president continued that the area still faced a lot of danger. Therefore, she understood the governor’s decision to withhold search and rescue teams until Monday morning.
“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 shared, according 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.”