NEW ORLEANS — When Stephanie Crier emerged from her New Orleans apartment last week after hunkering down for Hurricane Ida, she was relieved to find that the storm had not flooded the city or left catastrophic destruction on par with Hurricane Katrina. But since then, things have only gotten worse.
It has been almost a week without power in her home. Trying to fall asleep in the heat is torturous, Ms. Crier, 60, said, and she has had to get up and wash herself with cold water in the dark just to get through the night.
As forecasters warned of dangerously high temperatures over the weekend, Ms. Crier was worried about taking care of her mother, who is 81 and returning to her apartment after finding a brief refuge with a friend.
“It’s a little bit unbearable,” Ms. Crier said as she sat on a folding chair in a gym that the city had converted into an air-conditioned cooling center. “If I could find somewhere to really lay down and stretch out, I might sleep all day and not wake up until the next day.”
heat index hitting 103. The number of visitors at the cooling center that Ms. Crier visited on Saturday nearly quadrupled between Wednesday and Friday.
“We’re definitely seeing more desperation out in the streets,” said Nate Mook, who leads the World Central Kitchen, a disaster relief charity that is giving out 25,000 meals a day in and around New Orleans.
provides electricity to much of Louisiana, has vowed to restore power to almost all New Orleans residents by Wednesday, which would be 10 days after many people’s lights went out.
But local officials said that each day that passed was making the situation more dire.
“As we get into this point five or six days in, we are starting to see the elderly and vulnerable populations — the heat is starting to have an impact,” said Collin Arnold, the director of New Orleans’s emergency preparedness agency. “It is kind of a race with the clock.”