Scattered showers Tuesday afternoon brought cooler temperatures to one of the last pockets of Baton Rouge still without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, but residents in the Tara subdivision weren’t celebrating.
“When the rain came I said, ‘Oh God, they’re going to stop working,” said Stewart Wilson, 79. “It may delay us another day.”
Tuesday marked the ninth day that most residents of the neighborhood went without power. Most of Wilson’s days have been spent listening to the whir of his generator, chatting with neighbors and caring for Becky Wilson, his 77-year-old wife who is in hospice.
A single line that connects the neighborhood to the broader Baton Rouge power grid was felled during the hurricane, something Wilson said utility workers told him is delaying the area’s restoration. The stretch of La. 426 in front of the neighborhood is shut down while the crews work.
Fewer than 1,900 Entergy customers and just over 900 DEMCO customers were still experiencing an outage Tuesday. Entergy’s total means less than 1% of the company’s customers are without power, according to Entergy.
“When you’re down to the 1%, you’re suddenly not an emergency,” Wilson said.
But the couple are safe and comfortable to continue waiting out the outage, Wilson said. His new generator broke down twice but was quickly repaired. He even gave an extra generator to neighbors across the street when power first went out, who in turn sent it to some friends in New Orleans when their power was restored last Wednesday.
Like Wilson, 76-year-old Edwin Dale is making the best out of the 9-day outage. Most of the houses in the affluent neighborhood were either empty or had the sound of a generator emanating from the back yard, something Dale said he recognizes that many people in southeast Louisiana don’t have when their power is knocked out.
“I understand that we’ve had this before, and there are a lot of people worse off than we are,” Dale said. “We’re eating, we’ve got refrigerators, I bought a little air conditioner — we’re OK. I could complain if I wanted to but that wouldn’t do any good.”
In harder hit parishes to the east of the city, restoration is slow going. Roughly 13% of homes and businesses in Ascension Parish were without power Wednesday afternoon. About 56% of homes and businesses in Tangipahoa Parish, 37% in Livingston Parish and 61% in St. Helena Parish were also experiencing outages.
Restoration for most Livingston and Ascension customers should come in the next few days, although the eastern reaches of both parishes could be longer. Residents in Tangipahoa and St. Helena parish could still face weeks without power. The stronger side of Ida went through both parishes.
DEMCO said its infrastructure in the parish is “ravaged” and its rebuild could take “three to four weeks.” Some St. Helena residents may also have to wait several weeks for power because the “entire east side of St. Helena is devastated,” DEMCO said.