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New Orleans Mayor Cantrell On The City's Loss Of Power Brought By Hurricane Ida

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Massive flooding, lots of wind damage and no power - that's what Hurricane Ida has left behind on the Gulf Coast. And the issue of power is a major one for New Orleans, where temperatures reach the 90s. The lack of air conditioning in the blistering heat is another critical issue residents are facing as they survey the damage. For more on what's going on, we have LaToya Cantrell, mayor of New Orleans.

Welcome, Mayor.

LATOYA CANTRELL: Good afternoon. Thank you.

CORNISH: What have you heard from the power companies about why and when they'll be able to fix the power situation?

CANTRELL: Well, the (inaudible) because transmission (inaudible) were compromised during Hurricane Ida outside of Orleans Parish, but has a (inaudible) on the distribution of power inside Orleans Parish.

CORNISH: So you're saying some of the issue - just as your line is dropping out - you're saying some of the issue lies just outside of Orleans Parish in terms of the power grid?

CANTRELL: What I'm saying is that the transmission stations that feed distribution in our city were compromised. So those transmitters were not in Orleans - not in New Orleans, but they impacted our distribution lines in our city. Therefore, we are out of power. We know that assessments are happening on the transmission side, and a plan is being developed to get our eight distribution centers in the city back online. That's happening now. However, I do not have a timeline in regards to when power will be - begin to be fully restored in the city. And that's where we are right now.

CORNISH: Thank you. Do you see this as a failure in any way? Entergy, the company that provides much of the power to New Orleans, they had opened a new natural gas power plant in the city saying that it would, in fact, help keep the power on during hot days and big storms.

CANTRELL: Sure. Well, what I will say is that the transmitters have been compromised and - those particularly outside of the city. And my first priority right now is really not looking back. It's about looking forward on how I'm going to get power restored for the residents in my city. Entergy and all affiliates will be held accountable as necessary, but now is the time to focus on power restoration. And that's my priority.

CORNISH: What are you doing for residents who are facing the heat without the ability to have air conditioning?

CANTRELL: Sure. So the focus on Day 2 essentially is respite care for residents; utilizing and standing up our rec centers to be cooling centers, food distribution centers. Also, relative to charging stations and the like, those are being activated today. In addition to that, we have mobilized over 70 of our regional transit buses that are staged in neighborhoods throughout the city that will provide some level of (inaudible) for (inaudible).

CORNISH: Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans - we reached her despite power issues and some production concerns. But we very much appreciate your time and best of luck getting the city back online.

CANTRELL: Well, thank you. Thank you very much. And at the end of the day, we held the line. We did not experience another Hurricane Katrina, so that is progress for certain.

CORNISH: Indeed. Thanks so much.

CANTRELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.