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Kenner city hall damaged badly, return may be impossible

Food, water and other supplies distributed outside Esplanade Mall in Kenner
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Hurricane Ida battered Kenner city hall so badly that Mayor Ben Zahn says they may not be able to return to the building.

Mayor Zahn said the building is in bad shape.

“Is it significant, yeah, we won’t be able to return,” he said.

Ida’s potent winds had their way with the building’s windows.

FOX 8 asked Zahn whether city hall would have to be razed.

“Well, we’re looking at that right now, what’s going to actually be the end result of it... but for right now, it’s not a place that we can operate out of, and I don’t believe we’re returning to that,” Zahn replied.

Zahn was outside the Esplanade Mall in Kenner where a drive-through food distribution event was underway. Recipients expressed gratitude.

“We’re able to get food and everything and actually eat something other than like canned foods and everything like that,” said Nicole Pajares. “It gives back to people who need help when you do need it and it helps us out a lot.”

Another recipient of the food and other supplies who identified himself only as “Jimmy” expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s very hard to give stuff right now and I was happy I was finally able to get gas in five minutes and do other normal stuff today,” he said.

Kenner Councilman Mike Sigur was at the distribution site and said residents may need assistance for a long time following the devastating hurricane.

“We still have a lot of areas that do not have power, so without that they cannot have their refrigerators running, so they need food, they need the water, they need the supplies. So they’ll come out here and pick these up, the food that’s served. We also have Red Cross and Salvation doing that also, so yes this is a big help to our residents and it’s going to be needed for a while now,” Sigur said.

The Church of the King which is located on the edge of the mall site and another group, Convoy of Hope were providing food and other resources to residents who drove by.

Misty McCarthy attends Church of the King.

“We’re wanting to give people a hope who have lost everything and so immediately as quickly as we can,” said McCarthy.

A home near the mall appears to have collapsed completely due to the hurricane. Near West Metairie, similar structural damage was spotted.

Meanwhile, utility crews were visible on many Metairie and Kenner streets restoring electricity throughout the day. And Entergy Louisiana hopes to have 90% of outages in Jefferson Parish restored on Wednesday despite some challenges.

John Hawkins of Entergy Louisiana said those repairing lines are also having to deal with debris.

“I think the biggest thing is just the debris, there’s a lot of entanglement with wires and poles for multiple circuits,” said Hawkins.

Like other heavily damaged communities, Zahn says Kenner will need federal help and he is reaching out to White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond, a former Louisiana Congressman from New Orleans, and current members of the state’s congressional delegation.

“We had just moved some of my office for renovation to a trailer that the council had purchased with us. We moved that over there with the field services, so we’re working out of that and also the EOC, but we will need something for the people, you know. Code enforcement obviously is going to be needed for the rebuilding, so our next step will be reaching out to Cedric, Steve Scalise, all of our guys over and of course wherever the president can help us,” said Zahn.

Entergy urges people using gas generators to carefully follow the directions. Local officials say there have been numerous cases of carbon monoxide poisoning since Ida hit Louisiana.

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