The death toll in Louisiana from Hurricane Ida has risen to 26 with the additional 11 deaths all occurring in the city of New Orleans, officials said on Wednesday, as the region continues to grapple with the fallout from the storm and lingering power outages that have left thousands in the dark.
The rising death toll in Louisiana comes as another storm threatens the the US south-east. Tropical Storm Mindy formed Wednesday in the northeast Gulf of Mexico, prompting forecasters to issue a tropical storm warning for part of the Florida panhandle.
The newly reported deaths happened between 30 August and Monday, but were just confirmed as storm-related by the Orleans parish coroner, the state health department said.
New Orleans also lifted a nightly curfew Wednesday as the city moved closer to regaining full power 10 days after Hurricane Ida, but hundreds of thousands of people outside the city were still without lights and water and more than 250,000 children were unable to return to schools.
The city was left completely in the dark when Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast with 150 mph winds on 29 August, cutting power to more than a million people statewide. A mayor later imposed curfew, citing cases of theft and other minor crime.
Nine of the New Orleans deaths came from “excessive heat during an extended power outage,” according to the health department. The remaining two deaths involved carbon monoxide poisoning. The heat-related deaths involved people ages 64 to 79, the department said.
Hurricane Ida, one of the strongest hurricanes to ever make landfalls in the US, also caused severe flooding and destruction further north. At least 50 people in the north-east, from Virginia to Connecticut, died as storm water from Ida’s remnants cascaded into people’s homes and engulfed vehicles, overwhelming urban drainage systems unable to handle so much rain in such a short time.
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Mindy could cause as much as 6in (15cm) of rainfall across the Florida panhandle and portions of southern Georgia and South Carolina through Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said. Scattered flash, urban, and small stream floods are possible.
Mindy is the 13th named storm of what has been another busy Atlantic hurricane season.
Ten days after the hurricane, 96% of utility customers are still without power in the five parishes hit hardest by the hurricane: Terrebonne, Lafourche, St James, St Charles and St John the Baptist.
Even as power was coming on in parts of Terrebonne parish, it was of limited use to Coy Verdin. The 52-year-old fisherman was staying at his son’s house in Houma. His own bayou-side home was all but destroyed in the storm.
“All the ceilings fell. You can see daylight through the roof,” Verdin said. “All we have is basically a shell.”
About 62,000 people were still without running water in Louisiana, the state health department reported. That’s significantly lower than the hundreds of thousands of people who had no water immediately after Ida’s landfall. Still, more than 580,000 people were being told to boil their water for safety.
In many neighborhoods, homes remain uninhabitable. About 3,200 people are in mass shelters around Louisiana while an additional 25,000 people whose houses have been damaged are staying in hotel rooms through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s transitional sheltering program.