Officials in 'Life-Saving Mode' as Many Await Rescuing After Ida: 'There's Hundreds, Possibly More'
Rescue efforts are currently underway in southeastern Louisiana as more information about the devastation from Hurricane Ida comes into focus.
Addressing the impact of the storm on Monday morning, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards noted that in addition to "tremendous" property damage, "virtually no one has electricity in this part of the state right now" — two factors that make finding help more urgent.
"We know that individuals are out there waiting to be rescued because their homes are not habitable," he added. "Please know that we have thousands of people out right now with high water vehicles and boats who are doing search and rescue."
"Please understand we're going to be in life-saving mode, doing search and rescue as a first order of priority," he added.
Although the exact number of people who need rescuing is not currently known, officials estimate there are at least hundreds stuck in their homes.
"Seems like there's hundreds, possibly more, people trapped in their houses, with some extent of water — from a foot deep to people in the attics," Jordy Bloodsworth, fleet captain for the Louisiana Cajun Navy — a volunteer rescue group — told CNN on Monday.
Authorities in the town of Slidell said that they had rescued between 15-20 people on Monday, followed by an additional four who were taken from a roof, according to the Daily Beast.
Giving an interview with one local news outlet, Tiffany Miller said she was stuck in the attic of her LaPlace home.
"When we got in the attic, the water was right below my knees," Miller told WDSU. "For the water to get that high in my house, the water outside needs to be at least waist deep."
In addition to debris from the storm, one factor that is impacting the ability of rescue teams to reach people in need is a lack of cell phone service, per CNN.
"This morning, Troopers began assisting crews with the clearing of roadways in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. The full extent of damage is yet to be seen," the Louisiana State Police wrote on Facebook Monday. "Search and rescue missions will begin once first responders are able to navigate throughout the affected areas."
"Although the storm has passed, it is not yet safe to return to the area. A large portion of travel routes are blocked by downed trees and power lines. In addition, there is standing water in some areas which can deteriorate roads and sweep vehicles away. Debris is also scattered throughout the area, which can make navigating our roadways very difficult," they added.
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NBC News' Sam Brock reported that people trapped in their homes have turned to social media to try and find help.
"We know one family who tweeted that there's five people inside their home, including a young boy and girl. These are the measures that people have to resort to right now," he said Monday.
As of Monday afternoon, at least one person — a 60-year-old man — has died due to the storm after a tree fell on his home, according to state officials.
However, Gov. Edwards has warned that "fully expects the death count will go up considerably throughout the day."
"I don't want to tell you what I'm hearing, because what I'm hearing points to a lot more than that. They're not yet confirmed, and I really don't want to go there," he told TODAY.