Following Hurricane Ida's destructive path, volunteers and town officials alike in Osyka, Miss., began cleanup efforts to make the roads navigable for first responders and utility workers Monday, Aug. 31, 2021. (Caleb McCluskey/The Enterprise-Journal via AP)

As the remnants of Hurricane Ida crawled through and out of Mississippi late Monday through Tuesday morning, officials said the Magnolia State mostly dodged a bullet on catastrophic damage and made plans to help devastated south Louisiana.

“We will do what Mississippians do, and step up and help,” Gov. Tate Reeves said in a press conference late Monday. But he warned that Ida, still a tropical depression, would still dump heavy rain and have gusting winds until it exits the state on Wednesday morning.

Authorities reported three Mississippi fatalities related to the storm, one before landfall and two on Monday night after the storm had passed through.

One motorist was killed in an auto accident in Harrison County on Interstate 110, before the storm hit, as he was traveling to get sandbags.

Two people were killed on Mississippi 26 and at least 10 injured after the roadway collapsed on Monday night after the storm passed through and motorists were apparently unaware and drove into the crater.

Overall, state damage assessments have not been calculated, but the strong hurricane’s impact here was not nearly as bad as once predicted.

READ MORE: ‘We are in crisis’: Mississippi hospitals dodge bullet with Ida, but COVID remains worse than ever

Mississippi Department of Transportation crews late Monday were focused on clearing roadways in southwest Mississippi, which saw some of the worst wind damage from the storm, Reeves said. The next focus of MDOT, the governor said, would turn to the Coast.

Reeves said that state and federal teams had performed 20 water rescues overnight in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. He said federal teams had been released to help in Louisiana, and state teams would soon do likewise as issues in Mississippi subsided.

Mississippi Emergency Management Director Stephen McRaney said damage reports had come in from eight of Mississippi’s 82 counties and so far were “relatively light, considering the magnitude of the storm.”

Storm surge along the Coast reached more than 8 feet in Hancock County and caused flooding in low lying areas, but fell short of the 11-foot surge officials had warned Mississippi of before Ida’s landfall in Louisiana.

Some areas of Mississippi saw total rainfall of 12 inches over 24 hours, and inland areas such as McComb and Hattiesburg saw up to 6 inches over the period. Riverine flooding and tornadoes remain a threat, officials warned, even as Ida leaves the state.

At its peak, the storm knocked out power to about 144,000 households in Mississippi, McRaney said, but that number had been reduced to about 85,000 by late Monday afternoon.

By late Monday, Reeves said, 19 of the 28 shelters Mississippi opened for the storm remained open. He warned those households still without power that a heat advisory was being issued for Tuesday.

Reeves said much of U.S. Highway 90, the Coast beach highway, remained closed from Bay St. Louis to Ocean Springs on Monday evening.

Refineries and gasoline distribution sites in Pascagoula and Collins were open on Monday, and the governor said supply trucks should be rolling and preventing any shortages at stations statewide.

Earlier in the day, Reeves participated in a call with President Joe Biden, Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards and other federal, state and local officials to provide an update on the massive storm. The update was carried lived by national cable news channels.

Biden pledged all the resources the states needed to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Reeves told the president that the federal search and research teams that had been deployed to Mississippi had been sent to Louisiana where the need is greater. Reeves said the state and local teams could handle search and rescue in Mississippi because it was not pummeled to the extent Louisiana was.

Reeves said National Guard troops from Mississippi also were being sent to Louisiana to help. Biden expressed gratitude for those actions.


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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.

Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.