Mayor Cantrell holds first press conference post-Ida

Mackenzie Bookamer, News Editor

trees are down in front of AB freeman business school
Hurricane Ida’s damage can be seen in front of the AB Freeman School of Business. (Mackenzie Bookamer)

This morning at 11:30 a.m. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell delivered her first press conference after Hurricane Ida made landfall. 

Cantrell said that today was designated as a preparation and assessment day so that the city can respond with appropriate resources. The city of New Orleans has been without power since Aug. 29, and backup generators are providing power to essential municipal practices. There are no major reports of widespread structural damage, but the city is still assessing other extensive damages that occurred. Cantrell said the levee system put in place after Hurricane Katrina protected the city as it was intended to. 

“Now is not the time for reentry to the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said. 

Cantrell urged that all residents should stay where they are — whether that be in their home or the place where they evacuated to. Residents should continue to monitor communications from the city to know when it is safe to return. 

“It is not the time to return. There’s not a lot open,” Collin Arnold, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said.

Arnold shared that even though the dangerous weather system has passed, New Orleans is still an extremely hazardous environment due to the extensive debris accumulation. He shared that residents should report any damages to this website to alert the city and give them an indication of what response is warranted. 

“Today is a different outcome than the day after Katrina sixteen years ago,” Ramsey Green, deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure, said.

Effects of Hurricane Ida can be seen by Newcomb Quad. (Mark Keplinger)

Green attributed these changes to the increase in protection of the levee systems, whose collapse during Katrina led to the catastrophic flooding and damage to the city. 

There have been many reports of looting in the city. Superintendent of Police Shaun Ferguson said that this is not the time to prey on the vulnerable residents of New Orleans affected by Ida. The New Orleans Police Department is deploying an anti-looting group to combat the rise in crimes. 

President and CEO of Entergy Deanna Rodriguez shared that 888,000 residents in New Orleans and the surrounding regions are without power, largely due to eight downed transmission lines.

“We have about 4,500 boots on the ground in New Orleans currently to do the damage assessment,” Rodriguez said. “Until we collect the damage assessment we can not give you a time [when] power will be restored.” 

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Arnold said that the best way to help the New Orleans community in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ida is to donate to organizations that are on the ground in New Orleans. Here is a resource to find such organizations. 

Despite the major challenges and obstacles encountered due to Hurricane Ida, Cantrell and members of Emergency Preparedness encouraged residents to trust the work of the city to protect them. 

“Hurricane Ida may very well be a different tune, but this is a dance we have all done before,” Councilman Jay Banks said. “There is no place better to be stuck than in New Orleans.”

“Our resiliency shined through during the darkness of Ida … we are going to shine brighter than we have before,” Cantrell said. 

You can view the full press conference here. If you are in New Orleans, you can register to volunteer here. Stay up-to-date with Hurricane Ida coverage here.