Louisiana Nursing Home Reportedly Did Not Feed, Change Residents in Hurricane Ida Aftermath

Residents of Louisiana nursing homes were reportedly not fed or changed after being transported to a warehouse in anticipation of Hurricane Ida, the Associated Press reported.

Louisiana officials announced Thursday that an investigation was being launched after four of the nursing home residents died.

Hundreds of residents from seven nursing homes were evacuated to the warehouse in Independence. Louisiana Department of Health spokesperson Aly Neel said that health officials received reports of residents laying on mattresses on the floor, not being given food or changed, and not being spaced out in adherence to social distancing guidelines.

When a team of health inspectors arrived at the warehouse to examine the conditions, the nursing homes' owner, identified as Bob Dean, told them to leave immediately. Three of the deaths were designated by a coroner as storm-related, and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said that there would be a full investigation and "aggressive legal action."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ida Damages Grand Isle
Louisiana health officials received reports of nursing home residents not being fed or changed after being evacuated to a warehouse in anticipation of Hurricane Ida. Above, a search and rescue team drives through standing water while checking homes destroyed by Ida on September 2, 2021, in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Power should be restored to almost all of New Orleans by Wednesday, 10 days after Hurricane Ida destroyed the electric gird, tearing down poles, transformers and even a massive steel transmission tower and leaving more than 1 million customers in Louisiana without power.

Not every customer will have power back in the city, utility Entergy said in a statement Friday. Customers with damage where power enters their home will need to fix it themselves, and there could be some smaller areas that take longer.

And there still is no concrete promise of when the lights will come back on in the parishes east and south of New Orleans, which were battered for hours by winds of 100 mph (160 kph) or more, Entergy said.

The company asked for patience, acknowledging the heat and misery in Ida's aftermath. Entergy said more than 25,000 workers from 40 states are fixing the 14,000 damaged poles, 2,223 broken transformers and 155 destroyed transmission structures.

"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." said Rod West, a group president for utility operations.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden was scheduled to visit Louisiana on Friday to survey the damage after promising 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 13 deaths were blamed on the storm in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including the three nursing home residents. Several deaths came in the aftermath of the storm from carbon monoxide poisoning, which can happen if generators are run improperly.

About 850,000 people in Louisiana, including much of New Orleans, remain without power, down from the peak of around 1.1 million five days ago as the storm arrived with top winds of 150 mph (230 kph), tying it for the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to strike the mainland U.S.

Tens of thousands still have no water in the midst of a sultry stretch of summer. Efforts continued to drain flooded communities, and lines for gas stretched for blocks in many places from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

Edwards said more than 220,000 people have already registered for FEMA assistance and 22,000 have applied for a federal program to place tarps on damaged roofs. About 72,000 "blue roofs"—tarps to protect protect homes with damaged roofs—may be needed across Louisiana, federal officials said.

"I know that people are anxious and tired," Edwards said Thursday. "I know they're hot. And the tempers can flare when they're waiting in those long gas lines. I'm asking people to be patient."

Some of New Orleans' hospitals have had their regular power supply restored, said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the New Orleans Health Department. A senior center has been converted to a place for residents to receive limited health care, she added at a Thursday briefing.

Declining numbers of coronavirus patients and restoration of power at additional sites helped the recovery at Louisiana's largest hospital system. Ochsner Health CEO Warner Thomas said the system's COVID-19 patient count fell to 663 from 990 about a week ago, Thomas said. That coincides with the state's overall declining case numbers.

Fallen Trees in Louisiana
Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday in Louisiana and brought flooding, wind damage and power outages along the Gulf Coast. Above, fallen trees and broken limbs surround a home after the storm on September 2, 2021, in Hammond, Louisiana. Sean Rayford/Getty Images