Louisiana residents struggle for essentials in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Louisiana residents still reeling from flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Ida scrambled for food, fuel, water and relief from the sweltering heat as work continued to restore electricity and officials vowed to set up more sites where people could get food and cool off.

There was a glimmer of hope early on Wednesday as power company Entergy announced that its crews had turned “power on for some customers in Eastern New Orleans”.

But hundreds of thousands of people continued to experience power and water cuts, many of them with no way of getting immediate relief.

“I don’t have a car. I don’t have no choice but to stay,” said Charles Harris (58) as he looked for a place to eat in a New Orleans neighbourhood where Ida had brought down power lines two days earlier.

Mr Harris had no access to a generator and said the heat was starting to wear him down.

New Orleans and the rest of the region were under a heat advisory, with forecasters saying the combination of high temperatures and humidity could make it feel like 41 degrees on Wednesday.

New Orleans officials announced seven places around the city where people could get a meal and sit in air conditioning.

The city was also using 70 transit buses as cooling sites and would have drive-thru food, water and ice distribution locations set up on Wednesday, mayor LaToya Cantrell said.

Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards said state officials were also working to set up distribution locations in other areas around the state.

Ms Cantrell ordered a night-time curfew on Tuesday, calling it an effort to prevent crime after Hurricane Ida left the city without power.

Police chief Shaun Ferguson said there had been some arrests for stealing.

Although some lights were back on on Wednesday, Entergy said reconnecting all of New Orleans “will still take time given the significant damage” to the city’s power grid.

The company said it was looking to first restore power to “critical infrastructure” such as hospitals, nursing homes and first responders.

Ms Cantrell acknowledged there would be 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.

Structural damage

The New Orleans airport, closed since the storm hit, was set to reopen on Wednesday for “very limited” flights, an airport statement said.

The storm caused massive flooding and structural damage in Houma, LaPlace and other communities outside New Orleans.

The barrier island of Grand Isle, which bore Ida’s full fury, was “uninhabitable”, with every building damaged, Jefferson parish president Cynthia Lee Sheng told a news conference.

The number of deaths from the hurricane climbed to at least five in Louisiana and Mississippi, including two people killed on Monday night when seven vehicles plunged into a 6m-deep hole near Lucedale, Mississippi, when a highway collapsed after torrential rains.

Mr Edwards said he expected the death toll to rise.

More than one million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were left without power after Ida hit the electric grid on Sunday with its 240km/h winds, toppling a major transmission tower and knocking out thousands of miles of lines and hundreds of substations.

An estimated 25,000-plus utility workers laboured to restore electricity, but officials said it could take weeks. – AP

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