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Hurricane Ida death toll rises to 6 and could continue to rise: Live updates

Ida is responsible for 6 deaths and the toll is likely to rise. Power is still out for nearly 1 million homes in Louisiana and flooding is complicating rescue efforts.

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Hurricane Ida death toll rises to 6

The death toll from Hurricane Ida rose to six on Wednesday after officials confirmed the deaths of two electrical workers in Alabama who were repairing power grid damage caused by the storm.  

James Banner, Senior Vice President at Pike Electric, confirmed to NBC News that two of the company's electrical workers were killed Tuesday morning while on the job in the community of Adger in Jefferson County.  

The area was lashed by the wind and rain caused by the storm on Monday.

Searing heat puts extra strain on region impacted by storm

Punishing heat in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ida continues to pose a challenge for recovery efforts, with nearly 1 million people still without power in Louisiana.

The National Weather Service continued a heat advisory for dozens of communities in southeast Louisiana, as well as southeast and southern Mississippi Wednesday, warning of temperatures that could feel as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The advisory includes New Orleans that lost all of its power during the storm. 

Some areas in the Greater New Orleans have opened cooling centers allowing residents to seek respite from the extreme heat as they continue recovering from the storm. 

The city of New Orleans is also using its transit buses as cooling sites. 

How 'rapid intensification' fueled Hurricane Ida

Long before Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday in southern Louisiana, climatologist David Keellings was already filled with dread.

As the storm passed over the western end of Cuba and moved over the Gulf of Mexico, Keellings, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, knew it would become fierce and unruly.

"I was saying, 'Uh oh, it’s going to head over some really warm water,'" he said. "And it did."

Once the storm began churning up the Gulf's unusually warm water — 86 degrees at places, even at depths of more than 100 feet — things escalated quickly. Over the next 24 hours, the hurricane underwent a process known as rapid intensification, growing from a Category 1 to a Category 4 storm only shortly before it roared over the coastline.

Read the full story here. 

Power may start coming back to New Orleans on Wednesday, mayor says

Two days after Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana, leaving hundreds of thousands of customers without power, the mayor of New Orleans said Tuesday that some power might be restored to the city beginning Wednesday.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said there should be "some level of transmission" to New Orleans late Wednesday, but she cautioned that while the news meant "significant progress" was being made, it did not mean residents could expect the lights to immediately come on across the city.

"The first step is transmission, and there's been significant progress as it relates to that. The next step will be focusing on distribution lines. So we're getting closer. And it could mean we could see some level of electricity or light in the city come tomorrow night," she said. "But, again, the expectation should not be, because it's not a real one, that the entire city would be lit on tomorrow evening."

Read more here

New Orleans mayor issues nighttime curfew in effort to curb crime in powerless city

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, speaks during the U.S Conference of Mayors 88th Winter Meeting at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, 2020.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered a nighttime curfew Tuesday, calling it an effort to prevent crime after Hurricane Ida devastated the power system and left the city in darkness. Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said there had been some arrests for stealing.

The mayor also said she expects the main power company Entergy to be able to provide some electricity to the city by Wednesday evening, but stressed that doesn’t mean a quick citywide restoration. Entergy was looking at two options to “begin powering critical infrastructure in the area such as hospitals, nursing homes and first responders,” the company said in a news release.

Cantrell acknowledged frustration in the days ahead.

“We know it’s hot. We know we do not have any power, and that continues to be a priority,” she told a news conference.

Bonaroo Music & Arts festival canceled after Ida soaks Tennessee

Attendees watch Taylor York, Hayley Williams, and Zac Farr of Paramore perform on day 2 of the 2018 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., on June 8, 2018.Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic for Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival file

The Bonaroo Music & Arts Festival was canceled Tuesday because of extreme rain caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

"While this weekend’s weather looks outstanding, currently Centeroo is waterlogged in many areas, the ground is incredibly saturated on our tollbooth paths, and the campgrounds are flooded to the point that we are unable to drive in or park vehicles safely," the festival announced on social media.

Centeroo, the central area of the festival grounds, is the site of Bonnaroo's main stages.

Organizers wrote they did "everything in our power to try to keep the show moving forward, but Mother Nature has dealt us a tremendous amount of rain over the past 24 hours, and we have run out of options to try to make the event happen."

Most of central and eastern Tennessee was under a flash flood warning on Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service, as now-Tropical Storm Ida passed over the state.

Bonnaroo organizers said ticket holders would be refunded "in as little as 30 days."

Arrest warrant issued for Ohio man who allegedly confronted NBC's Shaquille Brewster on live TV

Mississippi police on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for an Ohio man who they say confronted NBC News' Shaquille Brewster on live television.

Benjamin Eugene Dagley, who is from Wooster, Ohio, will be charged with two counts of simple assault, one count of disturbing the peace and one count of violating an emergency curfew, according to a statement from Gulfport police.

He could also be in violation of his probation out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio for allegedly traveling without authorization, police said.

Read more here. 

West Virginia declares Ida state of emergency, warns of flash floods and severe storms

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday declared a state of emergency ahead of the arrival of Tropical Depression Ida, citing the increased threat of flash floods and severe storms.

“All West Virginians need to absolutely be ready for the potential impact Ida may bring to our state,” Justice said. “West Virginians should pay extra close attention to emergency officials and media outlets. And please: do not endanger yourselves, your loved ones, or our first responders by trying to drive through flood waters.”

The state could see 2 to 4 inches of rain on Wednesday, Justice's office says, with areas that could see up to 6 inches. Heavy rainfall over the past two weeks from Tropical Storm Fred have already primed soils and rivers for flooding.

Tropical Depression Ida coming soon to western half of North Carolina

The western half of North Carolina braced itself for Tropical Depression Ida on Tuesday afternoon, as the system made its way through the Tennessee Valley, bringing heavy rain and threats of flooding.

Officials in Haywood County declared a state of emergency and  "encouraged and advised" its residents, especially those living near the Pigeon River, to evacuate to shelters it has established.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the region that'll remain through 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Ida on Aug. 31. 2021. Haywood County, N.C. is recommending voluntary evacuations as Tropical Storm Ida approaches.NOAA

Louisiana governor tells evacuees not to come home until state is safe

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards cautioned residents who fled the state amid Hurricane Ida to stay away until officials with the state’s Homeland Security & Emergency Management office say it’s safe to return.

“Many of the life-supporting infrastructure elements are not present. They’re not operating right now,” he told reporters. “The schools are not open. The businesses are not open. The hospitals are slammed. There’s not water in your home and there’s not gonna be electricity. So let’s get you where you can be safe and somewhat comfortable and if you need a hospital we can get you to a hospital. Please don’t come home before they tell you that it’s time.”

Ida has killed at least four people — two in Louisiana and two in Mississippi — and left more than 1 million Louisiana homes without power since touching down on Sunday with strong winds and rainfall. Thousands of people evacuated the state ahead of the storm, and Edwards warned that most deaths and injuries are likely to occur in the aftermath of the disaster. 

He said people who return prematurely could face injury or death from carbon monoxide poisoning from generators; deep, fast moving waters; heat exhaustion; and falling from roofs. 

It could take days to determine how badly Ida damaged the state’s power grid, and even longer to begin restoring electricity, power authorities said.