Tropical Depression Ida is set to bring heavy rains and flooding as officials warn of weeks-long power cuts.
Ida made landfall as a hurricane in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on Sunday, the same day Hurricane Katrina struck the area 16 years ago.
It hit land as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph (241km/h). It was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday, and to a tropical depression hours later.
Ida still brings a heavy threat of rain, flooding, and flash flooding across the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys and into the Central and Southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center warned.
“There is no doubt that the coming days and weeks are going to be extremely difficult for our state and many, many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told a Sunday press conference. “But I can also tell you that as a state we’ve never been more prepared.”
Photojournalist Alan Chin surveyed the damage on Monday. His photos show the destruction.
Still, many portions of southern Louisiana were catastrophically affected before the storm weakened.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents who traveled out of the city ahead of the storm not to come back yet.
“Residents that are here now in the city of New Orleans and visitors: we need you to be careful,” Cantrell said Monday at the city’s first press briefing since the hurricane passed through Sunday. “We need you to stay in your homes. Stay in your neighborhoods.”
Residents who traveled out of the city ahead of Hurricane Ida should remain out of the city until officials deem it safe to return, Cantrell said, as power remained out in the entire city and in surrounding parishes.
Deanna Rodriguez, the president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans, said at the conference she was unable to provide an estimate as to when power would be restored. More than 880,000 Entergy customers were without power in the state, she said.
“As a result of Hurricane Ida’s catastrophic intensity, all eight transmission lines that deliver power into the New Orleans area are currently out of service. When this occurred, it caused a load imbalance in the area and resulted in generation in the area coming offline,” an Entergy news release said.
The company also said power will not be restored tonight and backup generation has been provided to the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. Additional power outages throughout Louisiana are mapped on Entergy’s website.
The National Weather Service issued hurricane warnings for Louisiana parishes and downgraded Ida to a Category 3 storm Sunday evening.
Hurricane Ida has weakened to a Category 3 storm.
Tornado warnings were issued until 7 p.m. CDT for Orleans, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany parishes in Louisiana. More tornadoes may continue to develop as Ida moves through southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, the National Weather Service said.
The Plaquemines Parish Government said in a Facebook post that it received reports from the parish’s Sheriff’s Office that a levee in White Ditch had been overtopped.
“EVACUATE!!!! SEEK HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY!!!! If you live in the Braithwaite area between the Parish Line and White Ditch on the Eastbank SEEK HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY!!!!” a government Facebook post said.
President Joe Biden warned “the devastation is likely to be immense.”
“Many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday.
At a press conference Sunday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned people riding out the storm to remain inside in the most interior part of their home.
“If you’re in Ida’s path and you’ve not already begun to feel severe weather, we can just about absolutely assure you that you will,” Edwards said.
“Quite frankly, we can’t tell you yet how soon it will be before first responders will be able to respond to calls for assistance, so please don’t go out,” he added. New Orleans EMS suspended services earlier Sunday.
Edwards said residents in the path of the hurricane should prepare to shelter in place for the next 72 hours.
More than 350,000 people in Louisiana were without power Sunday afternoon, according to data from Entergy New Orleans.
More than 350,000 people were without power in Louisiana on Sunday afternoon, just about an hour after the storm in the state, according to data from energy company Entergy Louisiana.
Power outages in the state have rapidly increased as the storm neared the coastline and eventually made landfall. The company said power outages could last as long as three weeks for some customers.
“This increases the potential for sewer backups in homes,” the SWB said. “We urge those residents who still have power to minimize wastewater leaving their homes by not running your dishwasher or washing clothes.”
The stations are expected to remain out of order until after the storm passes, SWB said.
The National Weather Service urged residents in three Louisiana towns to seek shelter due to approaching “extremely dangerous hurricane winds” on Sunday.
Hurricane Ida strengthened to Category 4 storm Sunday morning.
Ida has strengthened into a Category 4 just hours before it’s expected to touch down in Louisiana.
An update from the National Hurricane Center said Ida is projected to bring maximum sustained winds of up to 150 mph (241km/h). There’s also the threat of “extremely life-threatening inundation of 9 feet (2.74m) or greater above ground level is possible somewhere within the area from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the coast of Mississippi.”
The storm is moving toward Louisiana at a rate of 15 mph (24km/h).
A Hurricane Hunter aircraft found Ida has strengthened into a major hurricane.
At 1 a.m. CT, the National Hurricane Center released a public advisory for Ida stating that an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft found the storm has strengthened into a “major hurricane.”
“Although landfall is not expected for about 18 hours, impacts will begin well before that time. Tropical-storm-force winds are likely to begin overnight, therefore, all preparations to protect life and property must be rushed to completion,” NHC’s forecast discussion said.
Powerful storm surges, wind, and flooding may result in structural damage to buildings, considerable floating debris, beach erosion, and flooded roads, according to the statement.
“The time is to prepare and evacuate is coming to an end quickly. Do so now or shelter in place. Do not enter evacuated areas until officials have given the all clear to return,” the statement said.
Over 1,400 incarcerated individuals in southern Louisiana parishes have been relocated ahead of Ida’s landfall.
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman told New Orleans’ WDSU that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Task Force facilitated the transport of more than 1,400 inmates Saturday afternoon to state prison facilities before Ida makes landfall.
About 835 inmates from Orleans Parish and another 600 from Plaquemines Parish were evacuated, WDSU reported. Gusman said 22 of the individuals in custody tested positive for COVID-19 and were separated and transported for treatment by medical contractor Wellpath Care, according to WDSU.
President Joe Biden discussed Hurricane Ida preparations with FEMA and the National Hurricane Center on Saturday.
National Hurricane Center Director Kenneth Graham briefed Biden on Saturday about Ida’s projected path. Graham said Ida “will likely be very strong and destructive, with dangerous, life-threatening storm surge and significant rainfall that would impact both coastal and inland areas,” according to a White House briefing.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell joined a video conference with Biden from the National Response Coordination Center to discuss evacuation efforts and concerns about widespread power outages, the briefing said.
Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration for Louisiana on Friday, authorizing federal assistance for all of the state’s 64 parishes.
Gov. John Bel Edwards warned Saturday that Hurricane Ida could be the strongest storm to hit Louisiana since the 1850s.
During a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to evacuate north of Baton Rouge and west of Lafayette as Hurricane Ida approaches the Gulf Coast, WAFB Channel 9 reported.
On Thursday, Edwards declared a state of emergency and sent President Biden a letter asking for direct federal assistance in response to Hurricane Ida. The Category 4 storm, which Edwards told WAFB will be the strongest storm to hit the state since the 1850s, is forecast to make landfall late Sunday with wind speeds up to 110 mph.
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