Power should be restored to New Orleans by the middle of next week, officials said, amid concerns over the lack of basic services in the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The storm knocked out electricity to more than 1 million customers in Louisiana, but almost all lights in the city should be back on by Wednesday, according to Entergy, the company that provides power to New Orleans and much of southeast Louisiana in the storm’s path.
The lack of power has made a sultry stretch of summer hard to bear and added to woes in the aftermath of Ida.
The utility issued a statement asking for patience and acknowledging the heat and misery in the storm’s wake. More than 25,000 workers from 40 states are trying to fix 14,000 damaged poles, more than 2,200 broken transformers and more than 150 destroyed transmission structures.
Rod West, a group president for utility operations, said: “Please know that thousands of employees and contractors are currently in the field working day and night to restore power. We will continue working until every community is restored.”
The utility offered no promises for when the lights will come back on in the parishes outside New Orleans, some of which were battered for hours by winds of 100 mph (160 kph) or more.
The outlook was bleaker south and west of the city, where Ida’s fury fully struck.
The sheriff’s office in Lafourche Parish cautioned returning residents about the difficult situation that awaited them — no power, no running water, little cellphone service and almost no gasoline.
“Residents can return to the parish outside of curfew times but are advised to come prepared with all provisions necessary to self-sustain,” deputies wrote on Facebook.
Louisiana authorities on Friday searched for a man who shot another man to death after they both waited in a long line to fill up at a gas station in suburban New Orleans.
Also on Friday, President Joe Biden arrived to survey the damage.
He met with local officials and toured a neighbourhood in LaPlace, a community between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain that suffered catastrophic wind and water damage that sheared off roofs and flooded homes.
The president also planned a flyover tour of other hard-hit communities, including Lafitte, Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Lafourche Parish.
“I promise we’re going to have your back,” Mr Biden said at the outset of a briefing by officials.
In other developments, Louisiana health officials started an investigation into the deaths of four nursing home residents who were evacuated to a warehouse ahead of the severe weather.
The residents who died were among hundreds from seven nursing homes taken to the warehouse in Independence, where health officials received reports of people lying on mattresses on the floor, not being fed or changed and not being socially distanced.
A coroner classified three of the deaths as storm-related.
When a large team of state health inspectors showed up on Tuesday to investigate the warehouse, the owner of the nursing homes demanded that they leave immediately, Louisiana Department of Health spokesperson Aly Neel said, identifying the owner as Bob Dean.
The Associated Press called several numbers connected to Mr Dean and attorneys who have represented him in the past, but they did not respond.
Mr Dean told Baton Rouge television station WAFB that the inspectors were on his property illegally.
He said: “We only had five deaths within the six days, and normally with 850 people, you’ll have a couple a day, so we did really good with taking care of people.”
Louisiana’s health department said that two dozen nursing homes have been evacuated from parishes hard-hit by Ida.
Governor John Bel Edwards promised a full investigation and “aggressive legal action” if warranted and said none of the other nursing homes were having issues.
Mr Biden has promised full federal support to Gulf Coast states and the Northeast, where Ida’s remnants dumped record-breaking rain and killed at least 50 people from Virginia to Connecticut.
At least 14 deaths were blamed on the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including the three nursing home deaths.
The Louisiana Department of Health on Friday reported an additional death — a 59-year-old man who was poisoned by carbon monoxide from a generator that was believed to be running inside his home.
Several deaths in the aftermath of the storm have been blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning, which can happen if generators are run improperly.
More than 800,000 homes and businesses remained without power on Friday evening across southeast Louisiana, according to the Public Service Commission.