Communities across Louisiana and Mississippi are taking stock of the damage brought by Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland.
The death toll ticked up to four on Tuesday, including two people killed Monday night when a highway collapsed in Lucedale, Miss. Highway Patrol Cpl. Cal Robertson told the Associated Press that vehicles landed on top of each other as they plunged into a hole created by the rural highway turning into a darkened pit.
In Louisiana, the entire city of New Orleans is without power due to damage inflicted on the area’s electrical grid after Ida made landfall Sunday. It may take weeks to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people there and in nearby areas.
Rescue and repair crews continue to navigate flooded streets and buildings reduced to rubble, a product of 150 mph winds and heavy rainfall blanketing the area. Many buildings’ roofs were either destroyed or ripped off entirely. Boats are the preferred vehicles for some neighborhoods previously navigated by cars.
Sweltering conditions brought by the summer heat have added a further layer of complexity to rescue efforts. The AP reported that a heat advisory was issued for the New Orleans region, “with forecasters saying the combination of high temperatures and humidity could make it feel like 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday and 106 on Wednesday.” In the many neighborhoods without electricity, air conditioners are unable to tame the heat. Many of the same areas lack refrigeration due to power outages, and still others lack running water.
Scientists say human-caused climate change is altering the makeup of storms like Hurricane Ida, with rising ocean temperatures leading to higher wind speeds, and rising air temperatures leading to more rainfall. Flash floods caused significant fatalities and devastation in Tennessee, Germany, India and China earlier this year, among other places across the globe.
View photos of Ida’s aftermath below.
< class="image-meta"p>Barns and buildings damaged by Hurricane Ida in Houma, La., on Monday. (David J. Phillip/AP)