As it happened: Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana as a Category 4 storm, knocking out power for over 1 million people and destroying homes and businesses with its floodwaters and winds

A neighborhood of houses is completely flooded.
Flooded streets and homes are shown in the Spring Meadow subdivision in LaPlace, Louisiana, after Hurricane Ida moved through on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. AP Photo/Steve Helber
  • Ida made landfall as a hurricane in Louisiana Sunday and downgraded to a tropical depression Monday.
  • More than a million people had no power as of Tuesday, and some could be without it for weeks.
  • Area hospitals were near capacity with COVID-19 patients, and the storm strained emergency services.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

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.
Destroyed building Hurricane Ida
Destroyed building on Airline Highway in LaPlace, LA. Alan Chin for Insider
At least two people were killed after a Mississippi highway collapse.
At least two people died and at least 10 were injured after part of a Mississippi highway collapsed, creating a huge hole that vehicles fell into.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Captain Cal Robertson said that “some of these cars are stacked on top of each other.”

A crane was brought in to lift vehicles out of the hole, which was up to 60 feet long, and up to 30 feet deep.

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People could be left without power for weeks due to Hurricane Ida, officials warned.
Hurricane Ida, New Orleans
Residents leave a partially flooded area in LaPlace, Louisiana, approximately 20 miles (32km) west of New Orleans. Alan Chin for Insider
More than 1 million people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have been left without power, PowerOutage.US reported.

CNN reported that some of these people could be left without power for weeks to come.

An official in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, said people in some parts of the area were expected to be without power for three to four weeks.

Officials in St. Charles Parish said it is “highly likely” that the parish will be without power for a month.

Ida is the ninth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic season.
Downed power lines and a car on a street
Traffic diverts around downed power lines on August 30, 2021 in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida. AP Photo/Steve Helber
It is also the fourth storm to develop into a hurricane.

As Ida approached the US Gulf Coast, Louisiana hospitals were already inundated with COVID-19 patients, with approximately 68% of state hospital beds and 84% of all ICU beds filled, according to The Daily Advertiser’s hospital capacity table.

Hurricane Ida was downgraded to a tropical depression Monday.
A man walks along the Mississippi River near the French Quarter as the sun rises and the early effects of Hurricane Ida are felt, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans.
A man walks along the Mississippi River near the French Quarter as the sun rises and the early effects of Hurricane Ida are felt, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Eric Gay
Tropical Storm Ida has been downgraded to a tropical depression as it moves over Mississippi, according to a National Hurricane Center forecast advisory at 5 p.m. ET on Monday.

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.
A man is see amid fallen trees.
A man assesses the damage done by Hurricane Ida. Alan Chin for Insider
“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.

 

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Gov. John Bel Edwards said he expects the death toll to “go up considerably throughout the day.”
Two firefighters survey a field of bricks debris and a crushed car from collapsed building
New Orleans firefighters assess damage as they look through debris after a building collapsed from the effects of Hurricane Ida, August 30, 2021. Eric Gay/AP Photo
“I am certain that as the day goes on, we will have more deaths,” Edwards told MSNBC on Monday.

It’s been difficult for search and rescue efforts to travel through all the debris left in Ida’s wake, so it could take “many days” to reach Louisiana’s southern coast on the ground, Edwards added.

“We’re going to be responding to this hurricane for quite awhile, and then we’re going to be recovering from it for many months,” he said.

A building that housed an iconic pawn shop where Louis Armstrong worked in the 1910s was completely destroyed by Ida.
Ida leveled a historic building on New Orleans’ South Rampart Street that housed the Karnofsky pawn shop.

Photos shared on Twitter show that the building collapsed during the storm.

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Several Louisiana parishes faced issues with 911 lines.
Debris is seen in an intersection in downtown on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Debris is seen in an intersection in downtown on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brandon Bell/Getty Images
St. Charles, Jefferson, and Tangipahoa parishes all faced difficulties with 911 lines during the storm, according to WDSU.

Cell service and phone lines were also facing issues on Sunday.

Additionally, at least 960,000 Louisiana customers had no power on Monday morning, WDSU reported.

As of 7 p.m. CDT on August 30, Jefferson Parish has restored its 911 line.

Ida’s first reported death was a Louisiana resident killed by a tree.
The first death linked to Ida was reported on Sunday, when a tree fell on a house in Baton Rouge, killing a person inside.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office announced the death on Facebook.

Little is known about the person who died, except that they lived off of Highway 621 in Prairieville.

Ida weakened to a tropical storm on Monday morning.
The storm had sustained winds of 45 miles (72km) per hour. Flooding remained a major concern, the National Hurricane Center said.

The National Weather Service said on Monday that flash flooding could occur in southeastern Louisiana, most of Mississippi, and southern Alabama. In Mississippi, forecasts warned of tornadoes and hail.

Power was knocked out in Orleans Parish on Sunday night.

Alerts sent out by Entergy, a Louisiana-based power company, confirmed that all of Orleans Parish is currently without power.

“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.

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The National Weather Service issued hurricane warnings for Louisiana parishes and downgraded Ida to a Category 3 storm Sunday evening.
A group of people cross an intersection during Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hurricane Ida made landfall earlier today and continues to cut across Louisiana. Hurricane Ida has been classified as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph (241km/h).
A group of people cross an intersection during Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images
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.

 

Residents of Louisiana’s southernmost parish were urged to immediately seek higher ground on Sunday evening.

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.”

“We’re gonna put the country’s full might behind rescue and recovery,” Biden told reporters Sunday.

“I’ve been around for a lot of hurricanes, and I don’t think we’ve ever had as much preparation,” he added.

Hurricane Ida made a second landfall in Galliano, Louisiana, at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday.
National hurricane center graphic map outlining ida's path from louisiana north
Hurricane Ida’s forecasted path as of 1 p.m. CT on Sunday. NHC
The storm’s winds decreased slightly to 145 mph as it moved over land, but that’s still a Category 4 hurricane.

 

“Many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday.
A man passes by a section of roof that was blown off of a building in the French Quaeter by Hurricane Ida winds, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in 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, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Eric Gay
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.

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Emergency Medical Services in the city of New Orleans were suspended Sunday afternoon due to “dangerous winds”.
Graphic announcing suspension of EMS in New Orleans
New Orleans EMS suspended operations due to ‘dangerous winds.’ New Orleans EMS/Twitter
“We will address calls accordingly once it is safe for our first responders,” New Orleans EMS said in a tweet.
The National Hurricane Center forecasted a storm surge as high as 16 feet (4.88m) – almost two stories – in some areas.
Peak Storm Surge Graphic Hurricane Ida showing surge up to 16 feet (4.88m)
The National Hurricane Center predicted a storm surge as high as 16 feet (4.88m) in some areas. The National Hurricane Center/NOAA
The highest storm surge is expected between the mouth of the Mississippi River and Port Fourchon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Ida made landfall in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, at 11:55 am CT as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph (241km/h).

 

The storm knocked out power at several sewage and water pumps, which won’t be repaired until after the storm ends.

More than 93,000 people in New Orleans faced a power outage early Sunday afternoon as the storm inched closer to making landfall, according to Entergy New Orleans.   

Power was also knocked out at several sewage pump stations on the East and West Bank of the city, prompting a warning from the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans.

“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.
Extreme Wind Warning
The urged people in three Louisiana towns to seek shelter indoors immediately. National Weather Service
The National Weather Service issued an extreme wind warning for Houma, Bayou Cane, and Estelle, Louisiana, until 1:30 p.m. CT.

“Treat these imminent extreme winds as if a tornado was approaching and move immediately to an interior room or shelter NOW!” the NWS said in a statement.

911 services in New Orleans were experiencing “technical difficulties” on Sunday as the storm approached Louisiana, officials said.

 

Video showed water levels in Louisiana beginning to rise Sunday morning.
A video taken from Grand Isle, Louisiana, located in the southeast region of the state, shows water rising rapidly ahead of Ida’s approach.

 

Hurricane Ida strengthened to Category 4 storm Sunday morning.
Wind speeds are expected to be most severe when the storm makes landfall in Louisiana.
Wind speeds are expected to be most severe when the storm makes landfall in Louisiana. National Hurricane Center
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.
A Hurricane Hunter Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV) aircraft, warms up its engines before takeoff from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011.
A Hurricane Hunter Gulfstream aircraft warms up its engines before takeoff from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, Aug. 23, 2011. AP Photo/John Raoux
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.

Although Ida has continued to move steadily northwest, its new track forecast is just a little to the east of the previous one, according to NHC’s forecast discussion.

 

The National Weather Service said parts of Louisiana may be “uninhabitable for weeks or months.”
People walk down Canal Street past a boarded up CVS Pharmacy in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 28, 2021 before the arrival of Hurricane Ida.
People walk down Canal Street past a boarded up CVS Pharmacy in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 28, 2021 before the arrival of Hurricane Ida. Owners were boarding up their shops and evacuations were underway on August 28, 2021 as Hurricane Ida was on a path to hit New Orleans 16 years to the day the southern US city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
Around 11 p.m. CT on Sunday, the National Weather Service’s New Orleans branch issued a statement saying that certain parts of Louisiana may be uninhabitable for extended periods, potentially for weeks or months.

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.
A prison guard leading a prisoner along a corridor
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.
US President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual briefing by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on preparations for Hurricane Ida, in the South Court auditorium of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021.
US President Joe Biden speaks during a virtual briefing by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on preparations for Hurricane Ida, in the South Court auditorium of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 28, 2021. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
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.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference to update the public on FEMA's disaster recover and temporary housing programs on August 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference on August 19, 2016, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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.