Scattered thunderstorms, lack of power complicate Louisiana recovery efforts

Power is now restored to most of New Orleans, but several hundred thousand people in southeast Louisiana are still without amid a rising death toll. Local officials say 9 more people in New Orleans have died of excessive heat, bringing the overall death toll in Louisiana to 26. Community correspondent Roby Chavez joins Judy Woodruff to discuss difficult living conditions in some of these parishes.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Power is now restored to most of New Orleans, but several hundred thousand people in Southeast Louisiana are still without.

    Consequently, the death toll has been rising. Local officials say nine more people in New Orleans have died of excessive heat, bringing the overall death toll in Louisiana to 26.

    Our community correspondent in New Orleans, Roby Chavez, has been reporting on the difficult living conditions in some of these parishes.

    And, Roby, good to see you again. Thank you for being there and reporting.

    You were telling us yesterday you were in the community of Lafitte, where they are still digging out. Tell us a little of what you saw.

  • Roby Chavez:

    Today, we're in St. Charles Parish, where Hurricane Ida, its eye came here, it sat for a couple of hours.

    And look at the damage. You can see these huge R.V.s just flipped on their side. One fell on the red truck on the side here. And we have seen this kind of damage along the coast, where the winds and the surge has been great.

    So, we went to Lafitte. It's a small village just outside of New Orleans, one of the best places you will ever go. But it is still hurting. The folks are still trying to recover in that area.

    Some of the power has come back on. The water, not all of it has receded yet. And so the National Guard has brought in these huge pumps to try to get some of that water off of the roads, out of people's yards, and back into the bayou, where it came.

    And the weather has been a big issue. When it's not hot, it is just pouring down rain outside. We sat through a thunderstorm yesterday and just watched the water rise all over again.

    And as we drove through Lafitte, you could see the damage of the tidal surge, many of the homes washed away. Their roofs were blown off. There are these huge bulldozers that were scooping feet of just mud and muck off of the road to get it out of the way, so emergency crews can get through.

    We also saw that with folks, people trying to do their best, mud in their homes, mud in their driveways, shoveling it out just like you would do from a snowstorm, but inches of this thick, thick mud.

    I have told telling a little bit about the cemeteries that were damaged in Hurricane Ida, a very grisly scene to see these damaged coffins laying in people's homes, in their front yards, under their carports.

    And the roadways in the area also just filled with debris. People are gutting their homes, everything that belongs to them torn and ripped out of the house, and put on the side of the road for garbage. So, those folks, they're just trying to take it day by day.

    Anthony Mike, Louisiana resident: Just pick the pieces up and move on. It's the first time in 18 years that I have been here that we actually got it like this, you know?

    Obviously, we just ripped everything. We just gutted the house. Mold is starting to take off in the house. So, I mean, I'm fortunate enough to be able to go finance me a trailer, I mean, an R.V., and put it in front of the house. That's all we can do.

  • Roby Chavez:

    Judy, so tough for so many people.

    And I have got to tell you, as we walked around, you couldn't get around without sinking in the mud up to your knees.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And it's just one community after another. You were telling us today you have been in Lafourche Parish, which took a direct hit from Ida.

  • Roby Chavez:

    Yes.

    Yes, Hurricane Ida right up the Bayou in Bayou Lafourche. And we saw a lot of damage there.

    The word of the day today is power, trying to get as much power back on as possible. So far, only a trickle. Nearly half of the homes are either uninhabitable or have been deemed that no can live in there anymore. Some apartment complexes have issued eviction notices.

    We also passed near the hospital, where there's a triage unit out in front of the hospital. The E.R. is still open, but operating in the parking lot under a tent. We went through one of the high schools that was damaged. So, schools will be out for quite some time.

    But we did notice a lot of power crews trying to put power back on in the area, nearly 2,000 people brought on. Housing clearly going to be an issue. So many people can't go back to their homes. Today, the parish was talking about bring boats to the Bayou there, so folks can live on barges and in boats.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's just stunning how much work still has to be done in that part of the state.

    Roby Chavez, again, thank you so much for your reporting.

  • Roby Chavez:

    Thank you, Judy.

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