Search and rescue efforts are the first concern in Louisiana, where "many thousands" may remain stranded in their homes in the wake of Hurricane Ida, Rep. Mike Johnson told Newsmax Tuesday.
"We have about 5,000 National Guard troops deployed to assist with this, as well as our neighbors and private citizens through organized groups like the Cajun Navy and so many others lending a hand," the Louisiana Republican said on Newsmax's "National Report." "Our levees in most areas held, but our power lines did not."
He added that about a million homes and businesses remain without power, meaning that about 2 million people, including all of New Orleans, are affected. Further, cell phone communications are down, "so we don't know who all is stranded, and that's the problem."
Johnson also noted that there are about 20,000 linemen from all over the country that have come in to help restore power, but continued flooding and high temperatures remain a major concern.
"Some of our rivers have not yet crested," said Johnson. "They're still rising as we speak. Flood warnings are still active and there is a 50% chance of thunderstorms today and 70% tomorrow. Right now, we have a heat advisory. Remember this is August. It's our hottest month. We've got a heat index of 106 degrees projected for today and no one has power, no air conditioner, and it's just a very, very dangerous situation."
He pointed out that Hurricane Ida has been designated the fifth-strongest storm to make landfall in the United States and ties for the strongest storm to hit Louisiana, a hurricane that struck back in 1865.
"Last year's hurricane Laura, which everyone should remember, we still haven't recovered from that [in] southwest Louisiana," said Johnson. "This one hit us in the southeast, but Incredibly it hit us on the 16th anniversary of Katrina ... winds were so powerful, you know that they actually reversed the flow of the mighty Mississippi River. This was a big one and the damage here from the violent winds and the storm surge and all the heavy rain is just simply catastrophic."
However, Johnson said he's optimistic for the outlook while the storm recovery continues.
"We in Louisiana are truly grateful for our friends and colleagues, fellow citizens from around the country," he said. "So many people have reached out with offers of assistance and words of encouragement and we need it. We've got the best people in the world here. Louisiana represents the very best of America. We're gonna get through it. But this is a tough one."
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