Ida traps tourists, attracts help from around the country

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(NewsNation Now) — One day after Hurricane Ida lashed the Louisiana coast, the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas are still largely without power.

As the sun came up on a battered city, Ida’s destruction became clear. So did the reality for people feeling trapped with no power and no plan.

“We’ve now booked five different flights. Everything’s booked, canceled,” said Jordan Long, visiting for a bachelorette party and now trying to find a way back to Philadelphia. “Our 9 a.m. flight (Tuesday) is canceled.”

Near the French Quarter, Darneta Austin came to New Orleans for her birthday only to have Ida crash the party.

“I had a very bad birthday,” she said. “No lights, no water, no hotel, no nothing. Just all chaos just broke loose.”

The powerful storm walloped the French Quarter, ripping roofs off buildings and flooding some streets. Widespread power outages are now forcing the city to tell people who evacuated not to come back yet.

Among the buildings destroyed are pieces of New Orleans history.

The Kornofsky Shop, where Louis Armstrong once worked, is a wreck. It later became New Orleans’ first jazz music shop.

“It’s a really sad situation,” New Orleans resident Blaine Williams said. “The little Jim Saloon is also over there and really heavily damaged. It’s another historic jazz landmark. So it’s a bad day for jazz landmarks.”

To keep water out, the city is relying on the levee system, which faced its first true test since Hurricane Katrina. But they need power for pumps to get rid of storm water.

Power restoration could take weeks.

In neighboring Mississippi, residents were spared some of the worst of the storm, but not all of its wrath. Split trees have destroyed cars and homes.

Alabama’s beaches were closed because of high surf after Ida dropped several inches of rain and flooded streets.

Arkansas is one of a growing list of states offering aid to the hard-hit areas. The Natural State upped its National Guard deployment from 20 to 500. They’ll join troops from Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Power company trucks from New Jersey and Connecticut are heading south, as are search-and-rescue crews from Ohio and Colorado.

New York is sending linemen, and task forces from Florida, Ohio and Arkansas have called on firefighters and first responders to go help.

But the ones who have already made it to the worst-affected areas say what they see is heartbreaking.

“It’s a war zone,” said Thomas Good, Fayetteville, Arkansas assistant fire chief.

President Joe Biden met virtually Monday with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves along with mayors from cities and parishes most impacted by Hurricane Ida to receive an update on the storm’s impacts, and to discuss how the federal government can provide assistance.

“We are closely coordinating with state and local officials every step of the way,” Biden said.

The administration said more than 3,600 FEMA employees are deployed to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. FEMA staged more than 3.4 million meals, millions of liters of water, more than 35,700 tarps, and roughly 200 generators in the region in advance of the storm.

The Associated Press, Aaron Nolan, Bill Wood/WGNO, Jack Royer/WIAT, Anna Faris/WJTV and Debbie Williams/WKRG contributed to this report.

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