The coronavirus pandemic claimed Kendall Duthu’s job as a cook at a jambalaya restaurant. Then Hurricane Ida claimed his house.
The 26-year-old resident of Dulac, Louisiana, is now living out of his car with his girlfriend after Ida roared ashore a week ago, splintering homes in its path. Now he does not know what is next.
On Saturday, Duthu collected a container of red beans and rice from volunteers in nearby Houma who handed out ice, water and meals to shell-shocked storm survivors. He stopped to eat in his car, its windshield shattered.
“Next stop, I don’t really …” he said, trailing off. “We’ve just been living day by day.”
Both Dulac and Houma are in Terrebonne Parish, among the hardest-hit areas of Louisiana battered to an unprecedented degree by Ida. Though Louisiana’s largest electric utility, Entergy, estimates most residents in New Orleans will have power by Wednesday, recovery efforts outside the city could be a much longer slog.
Meanwhile, residents continue to face food, water and fuel shortages while battling heat and humidity. Some parishes outside New Orleans were battered for hours by winds of 160kmph (100mph) or more.
Fully restoring electricity to some of these southeastern parishes could take until the end of the month, according to Entergy President and CEO Phillip May.
Ida damaged or destroyed more than 22,000 power poles, more than hurricanes Katrina, Zeta and Delta combined, an impact 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.
Power was restored to about 282,000 customers from the peak of 902,000 who lost power after Ida.