Ida weakens to tropical storm after knocking out power to New Orleans –

Published On: Mon, Aug 30th, 2021

Ida weakens to tropical storm after knocking out power to New Orleans

Hurricane Ida weakened to a tropical storm Monday after crashing into Louisiana and knocking out power to more than 1 million homes and businesses including the city of New Orleans.

Officials earlier warned of “life-threatening” floods. At least one person, a 60-year-old man, died in Ascension Parish after a tree fell on his home, authorities said.

Electric utilities reported that slightly more than 1 million homes and businesses were without power in Louisiana and another 100,000 in Mississippi. Entergy New Orleans, the main power utility in the city, with nearly 200,000 customers, said the entire city lost electricity early Sunday evening because of “catastrophic damage” to its transmission system. It said power wouldn’t be restored Sunday night.

The National Hurricane Center said that the rain and storm surge has “resulted in catastrophic impacts along the southeast coast of Louisiana.” It warned of dangerous storm surges and flash floods around southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi after Ida made landfall as one of the strongest storms in U.S. history. It also said tornadoes were possible into the evening from Mississippi to the western Florida Panhandle.

Now headed to Mississippi, the storm’s winds stood at around 45 miles an hour as of 5 a.m. ET and the hurricane center warned that gusts could still cause damage as it continues to moves inland.

The hurricane’s high winds ripped roofs from buildings in New Orleans, scattered debris across the famed French Quarter, toppled large trees and brought on flooding in Grand Isle, Louisiana. In St. Rose, in greater New Orleans, video posted on social media showed two large boats crashing into each other.

Early Monday, local officials were preparing to survey the damage as the sun came up and teams got ready to head out to check on those who called for rescue throughout the night. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told “TODAY” that around 250 calls for rescue came in overnight.

“We are ending what was a terrifying night for many individuals waiting for their rescue,” she said. “Today is the day we are going to see the damage.”

Levees in the Lafitte area were reported to have been topped, but did not have structural damage, she said.

The latest on Hurricane Ida:

  • Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as a Category 4 storm near Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Gov. John Bel Edwards described it as “one of the strongest storms to make landfall here in modern times.”
  • Ida weakened to a tropical storm early Monday.
  • The National Hurricane Center warned of “dangerous” storm surges. Authorities said a 60-year-old man was found dead after a tree fell on his home.
  • Just over 1 million homes and businesses were without power across the state, including all of Orleans Parish.
  • Find more up-to-the-minute updates at our live blog.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell said that more damage than initially predicted is likely.

“This is going to be a really long recovery,” she said on MSNBC early Monday.

New Orleans city’s sewer and water board said the power loss could affect a “very significant” number of its 84 sewer pumping stations. The board said that it had obtained backup generators for some but that “in order to prevent sewage backups, we have asked residents to limit water usage at home, thus decreasing the amount of wastewater we must remove.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards asked people to remain in place, saying that the storm has “left many hazards across Louisiana including flooded roadways, debris and downed powerlines.”

Heavy rain was expected throughout the day, with accumulated totals of up to 24 inches possible in parts of southeast Louisiana and Mississippi.

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Ida made landfall over Port Fourchon, Louisiana, at about 11:55 a.m. CT (12:55 a.m. ET) as the storm moved into the mouth of the Mississippi River, the National Hurricane Center said.

At landfall, the storm’s winds were just short of 157 mph, the level considered a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, which rates storms from 1 to 5 based on maximum sustained wind speed. Only four storms have made landfall in the continental U.S. as Category 5 hurricanes in the last century: the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, Camille in 1969, Andrew in 1992 and Michael in 2018.

President Joe Biden approved Louisiana’s disaster declaration on Sunday night, freeing federal aid for people and governments in the affected areas.

“This is going to be devastating — a devastating, a life-threatening storm,” Biden told reporters after he was briefed by officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “So please, all you folks in Mississippi and in Louisiana … take precautions, listen, take it seriously.”

New Orleans’s mayor warned that “conditions are still severe” in the city. The storm unexpectedly gained strength making it hard for officials to order an evacuation, New Orleans’s mayor said on Friday.

“We need you all to remain sheltering in place throughout the evening. It’s vitally important,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a video posted to social media late Sunday night.

“This is the time to continue to remain in your safe places. Not a time to venture out throughout our city at all. It’s unsafe.”

New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson said that the city would implement its anti-looting deployment. After Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005, looters broke into stores, taking jewelry, clothing and more.

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