Hurricane Ida slammed Louisiana with devastating force as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday. Although Ida has now weakened to a tropical storm, resources to help those affected have been impacted.
Hospital staff are relying on generators to keep life-saving machines running and sleeping on air mattresses in their workplaces. New Orleans 9-1-1 reported technical difficulties amid power outages as of Monday morning, encouraging anyone experiencing an emergency to find their nearest fire station or approach the nearest officer.
Two of the three hospitals in Lafourche Parish sustained damage in Sunday’s epic storm, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre told CNN.
A portion of the roof of The Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Galliano was ripped off as Ida came ashore, Webre told CNN’s Pamela Brown. The county was also forced to relocate its emergency operations center to a different building after the first building’s roof began to leak Sunday, Webre told CNN.
Hospitals dealing with storm damage and attending to victims of the hurricane were largely already stretched by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Before going into this storm, our hospital was already almost at capacity,” Ochsner Health System’s Dr. Derek Smith told CNN. “We know the coming hours are going to be even more of a test.”
The hospital, which is near New Orleans, is running on generators, and staff there have been locked in – sleeping on air mattresses and working around the clock to care for patients, Smith said.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hadn’t yet felt the worst of Ida when Mayor Toby Barker spoke to CNN Sunday night, but officials there were bracing for damage from the storm and stress on their hospitals.
“We know that both our hospitals are at capacity because of Covid, and we really need everyone tonight just to make good decisions,” Barker said.
The storm has also impacted access for rescuers to get in and residents to get out.
The Kerner Swing Bridge in Jefferson Parish was hit by a barge Sunday as Ida beat down on Louisiana, according to the parish government, prompting officials to warn residents it may not be safe to drive across.
“Any residents that may still be in Lafitte are advised to not attempt to drive on this bridge. We do not believe it is structurally safe,” Jefferson Parish tweeted.
And due to fallen trees on the roadway, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development shut down about 22 miles of Interstate 10, a major thoroughfare that transits the state east to west.
In Lafourche Parish, every road was impassible Sunday night, Webre told CNN.