A Louisiana man was missing and presumed dead after an alligator attacked him Monday in an area that was flooded during Hurricane Ida, authorities said.
A woman said that about noon Monday, her 71-year-old husband was attacked by an alligator while walking in knee-high 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.
Capt. Lance Vitter of the Sheriff’s Office said the man had gone to check on his belongings in a storage area below the house.
The woman, whose name was not released, told deputies that she was inside her home when she heard a commotion and splashing. When she went outside, she saw a large alligator attacking her husband, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“When she opened up the door, the alligator had him in the death roll,” Vitter said Tuesday.
After the attack, which resulted in the loss of one of the man’s arms, the woman pulled him 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. Vitter said that 911 wasn’t working at the time and that she couldn’t call for help. 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.
Vitter said the couple’s home is surrounded by marsh and in an area that is well known to have alligators.
“It was not uncommon for people to see alligators 7 feet or longer,” he said.
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 1 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.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.