A 71-year-old Louisiana man was presumed dead after a large alligator attacked him in an area flooded by Hurricane Ida, officials said Monday.
The man’s wife said her husband, who was not immediately identified by authorities, was walking in floodwaters around noon when the gator attacked him outside their home in Slidell, a city on the northeast side of Lake Pontchartrain across from New Orleans, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The wife told deputies she was inside the residence when she heard a commotion, went outside, saw the attack and rushed to help her husband.
She pulled him out of the floodwaters once the attack ended and went inside the home to gather first-aid supplies, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Slidell fire spokesperson Jason Gaubert told NBC News the man had lost an arm.
“When she … realized the severity of his injuries, she immediately got into her pirogue and went to higher ground, which was approximately a mile away, to get help,” the sheriff’s office said. “When she returned, her husband was no longer lying on the steps.”
Authorities used boats and high-water vehicles to search for the man but have not found him.
Sheriff Randy Smith urged people to be cautious walking in flooded areas.
“Wildlife has been displaced as well during this storm and alligators and other animals may have moved closer into neighborhoods,” he said.
At least four people in Louisiana and Mississippi have died in the wake of Ida, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the region.
Two people were killed and 10 were injured late Monday after a 50-foot stretch of highway collapsed in George County, Mississippi, an area that had torrential rains in the past 24 hours. Three of the injured were critical, according to Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Calvin Robertson. Authorities have not identified the two people who died.
Earlier in the day, two deaths in Louisiana were linked to the storm: a 60-year-old man who died in Ascension Parish when a tree fell on his home and a man who drowned after driving through a flooded road, authorities said.