ST. CHARLES PARISH, La. — St. Charles Parish faces a long road to recovery after Hurricane Ida, with nearly every structure suffering some sort of damage and power expected to be out for several weeks, parish President Matthew Jewell said Tuesday.
In an interview with WWL-TV Tuesday morning, Jewell said he'd surveyed the area by helicopter on Monday.
Ida was a Category 4 hurricane as it made landfall and remained a very powerful storm when it passed through the parish on Sunday.
Jewell said that damage in the area ranges from downed shingles to entire roofs blown off or even collapsed homes.
Many homes took on water, and there was still standing water in the Norco and Montz communities, Jewell said.
"It's hard to know exactly how many people took on water, but we are expecting dozens in the Norco area that potentially took on water," Jewell said.
The immediate priority is getting water restored to East Bank customers and getting water out of homes, Jewell said.
"Those pumping systems are working," Jewell said. "We're working on getting water restored and getting more pumps online to be able to pump that water out more quickly."
The parish experienced a "catastrophic failure" of its water intake system after a barge crashed into it on the East Bank, Jewell said. There are numerous leaks in the water system that will require repairing, and a parish-wide boil water order is in effect until further notice.
"If someone told me they could get the power back on in one month, I'd say, 'Man, that would be a miracle,'" Jewell said.
Entergy made an assessment of the power situation on Monday and has contractors headed to the area, he said.
Despite a mandatory evacuation order before the storm, Jewell said that he believed a little more than 50% of residents chose to stay. While there were some reports of medical emergencies, there have been no indications of serious injuries or deaths from the storm, Jewell said.
For residents who left the area, Jewell said they are "welcome to come back home" but they are strongly urged to stay off of roads to make room for first responders and others working to restore the county's services.
"We need our residents to...start focusing on their property and focus on getting that cleaned up," he said.
Jewell said flooding concerns aren't over.
"We had storm surge that pushed into Bayou des Allemands and we were able to hold that water back as it came in, now we know that all that water that came in -- plus all that rain water that us and five other parishes have received -- is going to try to come back out. So, we're going to be watching this for the rest of this week and probably into next week, to try to make sure that the effects of that storm water coming in don't attempt to inundate us on the back end."
Jewell urged residents to have patience as parish officials work to get resources from state and federal agencies.
“The word I would describe how I’m feeling right now is heartbroken, to be able to see all the damage across the parish and to be able to see all the communities that have received flooding.”