New Orleans, LA

Hurricane Ida wreaks havoc in Louisiana, New Orleans

A man passes by a section of roof that was blown off of a building in the French Quarter by Hurricane Ida winds on Sunday in New OrleansNPR

One of the most violent hurricanes to ever strike the United States slammed into the Louisiana coast, tearing off roofs, reversing the flow of the Mississippi River, and leaving all of New Orleans without electricity.

A hurricane fatality was attributed to the storm. A house in Prairieville, Louisiana, was the site of a call from the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office (APSOS) about a person who had been wounded by a falling tree. The unidentified individual was declared deceased. Located near Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capital, Prairieville is a suburb.

The city of New Orleans was rendered more vulnerable to floods when the electricity went out, and hundreds of thousands of residents were left without air conditioning and refrigerators while they sweated through a hot summer.

Ida, a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall on the same day. The effects of Hurricane Katrina were much more severe and more widespread than those of Hurricane Rita, which hit the same area a decade later. Ida matched it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to strike the continental United States, with its 150-mph (230 kph) winds. A Category 2 storm with maximum winds of 105 mph (165 kph) crept onshore and had its eye located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west-northwest of New Orleans.

The meteorologists in New Orleans informed residents of LaPlace, located on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, of significant flooding late Sunday night. Social media became a cry for rescue as the water level increased.

As landfall was reached just to the west at Port Fourchon, the barrier island of Grand Isle was inundated by the swelling ocean. Ida's second landfall occurred near Galliano two hours after her first impact. A major storm was spinning across the southern Louisiana marshes, putting New Orleans and Baton Rouge, with their combined population of more than 2 million, in peril.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, according to The Associated Press, told reporters, "If you had to draft a storm route that would devastate Louisiana, it would be this."

The morning after Ida blew through, a large hurricane hit Louisiana after its peak winds jumped by 45 mph (72 kph) in five hours, and as the storm passed over the world's hottest waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Officials from the city of New Orleans said that the whole city was without electricity on Sunday evening. The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness stated on Twitter that Entergy, the city's power provider, acknowledged that the only electricity in the city was coming from generators. A screen picture in the message referenced "catastrophic transmission damage" as the cause of the power outage.

The pumps that drain water from the streets are powered by Entergy in case of an emergency. The pump system will likely be tested by rain from Ida.

PowerOutage.US, a service that monitors power outages, has recorded almost 1.2 million outages in two Southern states hit by Hurricane Ida – more than 930,000 in Louisiana and 28,000 in Mississippi.

The wind in New Orleans flapped awnings and made buildings wobble, and it also caused water to overflow the Lake Ponchartrain levee. The New Orleans branch of the Coast Guard has received 13 reports of barges that have separated from their tow lines, said Petty Officer Gabriel Wisdom. A barge in Lafitte, Louisiana, a village approximately 55 kilometers south of New Orleans, hit a bridge, according to authorities in Jefferson Parish.

Ricky Boyette, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson, said that storm surge created a "negative flow" on the Mississippi River. Edwards also said that he had viewed a live video stream from Port Fourchon, where he saw that houses had lost their roofs in "several areas" when Ida made landfall.

Edwards told the AP, "The storm surge is simply incredible."

Officials noted that New Orleans' 390,000 inhabitants had little time to evacuate the city as Hurricane Ida went from a few thunderstorms to a major hurricane in only three days. Mayor LaToya Cantrell advised people who had stayed in the city on Sunday to "be prepared to weather the storm."

According to Marco Apostolico, who lived in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, one of the city's hardest-hit areas when the levees broke and flooded the city with water during Hurricane Katrina, he felt secure throughout the hurricane.

His residence was part of a rebuilding effort carried out by actor Brad Pitt to be able to withstand hurricane-strength winds. Nevertheless, Katrina's shadow was cast over the new tempest.

"Obviously, it's a lot of deep emotions," he said. "Also, frightening and perhaps hazardous."

The district that would be most impacted by Ida is home to refineries and large ports, which are likely to suffer severe damage. Vaccination rates are already low in this region, and even worse, the highly infectious delta strain is back, exacerbating the issue.

After initial evacuation efforts, New Orleans hospitals intended to stay full as a means of coping with the coming hurricane, since it was expected that no more patients would be brought in. And it was even more dangerous for people leaving their homes to seek refuge since they risked spreading new diseases.

An estimated 33,000 people live in Houma, Louisiana, and the area is home to offshore oil platforms, and forecasters predict wind gusts over 115 mph (185 kph).

In addition to devastating Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina destroyed houses on the Mississippi coast. Claudette Jones, who lived east of Gulfport, Mississippi, was forced to leave her house as waves began to batter the beach.

She prayed that she would return to a regular household, as she had left it. "I'm hoping for that. I'm uncertain at this time, however."

Residents in coastal towns looked back on August 29, 2005, the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, and feared the devastation that Hurricane Ida could wreak. New Orleans levees failed, causing floods, and Katrina was responsible for 1,800 fatalities. Hurricane Ida's 50-mile (80-kilometer) hurricane-force winds made up half the size of Katrina, as one New Orleans' infrastructure official put it, and were of a whole different magnitude than what the city had been used to before.

Ramsey Green, the deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure, stated that the levee system had been heavily renovated since Hurricane Katrina struck and that much of the worst damage had yet to be seen. Green warned that the city's underfunded and neglected network of pumps, underground pipelines, and surface canals may not be able to keep up with the upcoming rainfall of up to 20 inches (50 cm).

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Greg Langley said the agency would react to any reported oil spills or pollution breaches that take place at 1,500 refineries, chemical plants, and other sensitive sites. He said that the government will send out three mobile air-monitoring labs to monitor, test, and report any potential risks to public health once the storm had passed.

Of the roughly two-fifths of the nation's liquefied natural gas exports that sail from the United States, 55 percent of them originate in Louisiana, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. According to energy firm S&P Global Platts, 95 percent of Gulf Coast oil and gas production was halted when Ida made ashore on Sunday.

In addition to being home to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Louisiana also has two nuclear power plants: one in New Orleans and another little over 40 kilometers away in Baton Rouge.

Before Ida made landfall, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi. "Once the storm has passed, we will give the victims all of our strength and support in their recovery efforts," he added.

Edwards cautioned his state to expect the recovery process to take possibly weeks.

The governor told a press conference that "many, many individuals" would be challenged in ways that were unimaginable at now.

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