September 19, 2021

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Hurricane Ida death toll approaches 60 as states begin sifting through debris | Hurricanes

The death toll in the United States from Hurricane Ida rose to 60 on Saturday, nearly a week after one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the US mainland struck Louisiana. Two other evacuated nursing home residents have been confirmed to have died in the southern state.

In the northeastern states, Wednesday and Thursday many began the Labor Day holiday weekend by digging through debris left over from floods and tornadoes that killed at least 50 people and caused public transportation to stop.

In New York City, operators have promised to restore some commuter lines before the start of the work week on Tuesday.

In Louisiana, the confirmed death toll linked to the storm has risen to nine. With over 1 million people without electricity, many have been forced to queue at gas stations to find fuel for generators. Vendors have said that most, but not all of the affected Louisiana residents will be back in power by the middle of next week.

The deaths just reported were among evacuated nursing home residents in a Tangipahoa parish warehouse under state investigation after reports of squalid conditions. The state health department said, “This brings the death toll of nursing home residents evacuated to this facility to six.”

Authorities were also looking for a suspect after a man was killed in an argument Friday at a gas station in Metairie, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said.

“For someone who loses their life from gasoline, it’s absolutely ridiculous,” Lopinto said.

The heat continued in Louisiana nearly a week after Ida fell as a Category 4 hurricane, knocking down trees and power lines with gusts of wind reaching 172 miles per hour.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday cleanup crews are responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The spill, which is ongoing, appears to have come from an underwater source in an offshore drilling contract about two miles south of Port Fourchon. The rising oil slick appears to have remained offshore and had no impact on the Louisiana coast.

A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. John Edwards, said the pollution was due to crude oil from an undersea pipeline owned by Talos Energy. Brian Grove, a spokesman for the Houston-based company, said he hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the spill, although the company believes it is not responsible.

Clean Gulf Associates, a nonprofit cooperative, responded to the scene on Wednesday by setting a containment boom. The company’s ships also use skimmers that can remove oil from the water, though the coast guard said only about 42 gallons have been removed so far.

In the Northeast, Ida proved lethal in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, where at least 26 people died, most from any state. Most drowned after the vehicles were caught in flash floods.

On Saturday, authorities searched for two friends, Nidhi Rana, 18, and Ayush Rana, 21, who have disappeared since Wednesday after their car was captured in the Passaic River.

The White House said Joe Biden will look into storm damage in New York City and Manville, New Jersey on Tuesday.

After visiting a flood-destroyed apartment complex on the banks of the Raritan River in Piscataway on Saturday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy warned of the contaminants left behind.

“You have to assume the worst,” he said. “If you’re in there, you want the windows and doors to open.”

A record 3 inches of rain in an hour fell in New York City on Wednesday. By Thursday, nearly 7 1/2 inches fell, according to the National Weather Service. Eleven people died in flooded basement apartments.

On Saturday, the city opened service centers to connect people with housing, food and counseling. Seventy-seven people displaced by the storm were housed in hotels, Bureau of Emergency Management spokeswoman Christina Farrell said.

In Connecticut, preparations have been made for the funeral of Brian Mohl, a state police sergeant run over with his vehicle while on duty at Woodbury.

The northeast may not be completely clear, with Hurricane Larry escalating to approximately 1,055 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

“Higher swells could be approaching the northeastern coast by the end of the week, with Larry staying offshore,” said Bob Oravec, of the National Weather Prediction Center in Maryland.