At least 2 dead in wake of Hurricane Ida, death toll expected to rise

NEW ORLEANS, La. (NBC) – Search and rescue efforts are underway after Hurricane Ida roared ashore along the Louisiana coast Sunday as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Destruction is widespread, and more than a million people are without power.

So far two people are confirmed dead, but officials warn the death toll is expected to climb as search and rescue teams reach the hardest-hit areas.

The deadly storm brought hurricane-force winds to the area overnight, strong enough to snap massive trees in New Orleans’ famous Jackson Square.

Officials are only beginning to assess the extent of the damage and loss of life in Louisiana but scenes and reports, so far, are not promising.

Louisiana State Representative Randall Gaines said, “The damage is catastrophic. It’s the worst that I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been in the parish and we’ve seen several hurricanes.”

The Category 4 storm packed 150 mile-per-hour sustained winds and dangerous storm surge.

Across the strike zone, the damage is massive. Residents describe the chaos as trees crashed into homes.

Those in low-lying areas retreated to upper floors and attics to escape the rising water.

LaPlace, Louisiana Tomeka Marshall explained, “It progressively got worse. It was ankles, knees, almost chest level so just put dogs on the counters and climbed into the attic.”

Making a bad situation worse, Ida’s destructive wind and rain hovered over the state.

“Not only was this a Category 4 storm, but it’s stayed a Category 4 storm for hours over southern parts of Louisiana,” said FEMA Director Deanne Bennett Criswell.

In New Orleans, a sudden rush of water stranded people in their vehicles overnight as rescuers rushed in.

Dangerous and destructive, Ida’s impact is being felt across the region.

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