An official looks at the deep hole on Mississippi Highway 26 in the Crossroads community, Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. Two people were killed and at least 10 others were injured when seven vehicles plunged, one after another, into the deep hole on the dark rural two-lane highway, which collapsed Monday, after Hurricane Ida blew through Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

While Mississippi was spared the destruction neighboring Louisiana saw from Hurricane Ida, the storm traversed most of the Magnolia State and hard-hit areas on the Coast and in southwest Mississippi are still dealing with the disaster.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Stephen McRaney on Wednesday said initial reports are that Ida damaged 164 homes in Mississippi, six of which were destroyed. It damaged 184 roadways and 53 bridges, and Mississippi Department of Transportation officials are still assessing damages.

Two people were killed and 10 others injured (three critically) on Monday night when a section of Mississippi Highway 26 west of Lucedale collapsed and seven vehicles plunged into the crater. Shortly before the storm’s arrival, a motorist in Harrison County heading to get sandbags was killed in a crash.

“On behalf of President Biden, our heart goes out to the families in George County who lost loved ones, and we would like to thank all the first responders. You’ve had a lot on your plates as of late,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who was in Mississippi on Wednesday and attended a press conference with McRaney, Gov. Tate Reeves and others. “… Mississippi avoided the worst of Ida, but the federal family was here to help respond and support as needed … We will be here to continue to support any efforts.”

READ MORE: Mississippi Today’s complete coverage of Hurricane Ida.

Reeves said there were still 37,000 power outages statewide on Wednesday, primarily in Wilkinson County and rural areas of southwest Mississippi. He said at the storm’s peak, there were about 136,000 outages.

“Given the heat advisories and the 100-degree plus temperatures we’re seeing, it is very important to get that power restored,” Reeves said. “… There are many, many heroes in a large disaster like this, but our linemen and linewomen are certainly at the top of those lists.”

McRaney said some main transmission lines remained down Wednesday and urged people to be patient and try to stay off the roads in impacted areas, but said the whole state should have power restored by Friday. All hospitals have power, though during the storm three had to convert at least partially to generators.

Mississippi officials said those in need of assistance can use the following contacts:

  • Mississippi Hurricane Ida Assistance Line for Mississippi residents: Call 1-888-574-3583, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., or go to msema.org.
  • Louisiana residents sheltering in Mississippi can contact Louisiana emergency authorities at: 1-800-755-5175.
  • Louisiana residents sheltering in Mississippi wanting to apply for federal individual assistance can call: 1-800-621-3362, or go to disasterassistance.gov.

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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.