More than 200 people in a small Louisiana town are in “imminent danger” from flash flooding caused by Hurricane Ida after heavy rain and storm surge swept over the levee.
The National Weather Service warned of potentially life-threatening flash flooding in the town of Jean Lafitte, 20 miles south of New Orleans.
The floodwater was reportedly between 10 and 12 feet, sustained winds in the area have reached up to 70 mph.
The city’s mayor, Tim Kerner, warned that the wind is too strong for rescue missions.
“No captain agrees to go in the water now,” Kerner said. “Believe me, we tried.”
He said more than 200 people were trapped in the high water and storm winds made the area inaccessible to rescue teams.
Kerner said, “This is the worst storm surge in Lafitte’s history. I have never seen so much (water) in my life. I think there’s more bad news tomorrow.”
Videos posted on social media by local Cindy Sassoni showed the water swelling from a boat in Nick’s Marina, on the south side of Jean Lafitte.
A video posted on Facebook shows water swelling in a marina in Jean Lafitte, at the tip of the state’s mainland
In the clip, she says, “This is sustained wind. I know there are many people who need to be saved, and many people who want to help, but these are the circumstances that we are dealing with.
“The neighborhoods are pretty much under water. Even some houses that have been lifted have water. Anything lower than that, if you’re on the ground, you probably have water on your roof.’
Other residents have begged for help on Twitter.
People were asked to “let someone know where we are in Jean Lafitte” and that the water is “constantly rising.”
Mayor Kerner said he will send help as soon as winds begin to calm before reassuring residents that they will be safe as long as they seek shelter in high-altitude areas of their homes.
“If you’re in an attic, you’re on a roof, rest assured, you’ll be fine,” he told WDSU television.
“As soon as you see the wind die down, look at the horizon, because we’re coming.”
A resident and his family begged for help on Twitter, asking people to “let someone know where we are in Jean Lafitte” and that the water is “constantly rising”
A flash flood warning is in place in the area until 6:45 a.m. Monday.
“This is an EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION,” the NWS reported. “LOOK FOR HIGHER GROUND NOW!”
The storm is so powerful that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said first responders will have to wait until dawn on Monday to search for stranded residents, even if reports of trapped victims come in.
Edwards told CNN on Sunday that authorities are aware of emergency calls from all over Southeast Louisiana, including Jean Lafitte in Jefferson Parish.
Mayor Tim Kerner announced the news on Twitter on Sunday evening that Jean Lafitte’s tidal dikes had been skipped.
Mayor Tim Kerner said on Twitter that ‘lifeboats’ will be in the area ‘as soon as weather permits’
However, according to the governor, Sunday’s circumstances do not allow crews to provide assistance.
“At the height of a hurricane, you can’t get first responders out because it’s just too dangerous. The wind speeds don’t allow that,” Edwards told CNN.
“As soon as we can, we will conduct very vigorous search and rescue operations.”
The storm is so powerful that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said first responders will have to wait until dawn Monday to search for stranded residents.
When the storm calms down, about 21 urban search and rescue teams from some 15 states will search for the stranded people, according to the governor, who said the extent of the damage won’t be known until Monday morning.
“There’s no one out of the woods in southeastern Louisiana yet,” the governor said.
“We’ll be working on it until sometime after midnight.”