A Louisiana man was missing and presumed dead after an alligator attacked him on Monday in an area that was flooded during Hurricane Ida, the authorities said.
A woman said that at about noon on Monday, her 71-year-old husband was attacked by an alligator while walking in floodwaters at their home in the city of Slidell, about 30 miles northeast of New Orleans on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The woman, whose name was not released, told deputies that she was inside her home when she heard a commotion. When she went outside, she saw a large alligator attacking her husband, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Once the attack stopped, the woman pulled her husband out of the floodwaters and returned inside to gather first aid supplies, the Sheriff’s Office said.
When she realized the severity of his injuries, she got into a boat to seek help, about a mile away. When she returned, her husband was gone, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies’ efforts to find the man were unsuccessful, and the incident remains under investigation.
Capt. Lance Vitter of the Sheriff’s Office told WWL-TV that the couple’s home is surrounded by marsh and in an area that “is well known to have alligators.”
In a statement, Sheriff Randy Smith of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office warned residents to be “extra vigilant” while walking in flooded areas because the storm may have displaced wildlife, causing alligators and other animals to move closer into neighborhoods.
Louisiana and Florida have the largest alligator populations in the United States, with more than one million wild alligators in each state, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Alligators are most common in Louisiana’s coastal marshes but can also be found in ponds, lakes, canals, rivers, swamps and bayous.
At least five other deaths — three in Louisiana and two in Mississippi — have been attributed to the storm, officials said.