Ida is killing nearly all of Louisiana – business insurance
(Reuters) – Most of Louisiana lost power on Monday after one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the region destroyed power lines, littered streets with debris, and flooded isolated communities south of New Orleans.
At least one person was killed and more deaths were expected in Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards told the media when Ida moved north as a tropical storm.
Virtually no one in the state has electricity and many water systems have also failed, the governor said. 911 was not available in New Orleans, 160 miles from where Ida hit land as a Category 4 hurricane. Energy company Entergy said customers in the hardest hit areas could experience power outages for weeks.
Climate change is causing deadly and catastrophic weather around the world, including stronger and more damaging hurricanes.
"Please stay safe and secure," the New Orleans City Ambulance Service warned residents on Twitter. "Although you might be tempted to go exploring, the conditions are still very dangerous."
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state and ordered federal assistance to aid the reconstruction effort. The Federal Emergency Management Administration sent 3,600 of its employees and 3.4 million meals to the storm-ravaged area, the White House said in a statement.
Ida fell ashore at a time when Louisiana is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 infections that have weighed on the state's healthcare system.
Even so, early reviews suggest that the Louisiana health system has been largely spared catastrophic damage.
A generator power failure at Thibodaux Regional Health System Hospital in Lafourche Parish, southwest of New Orleans, forced medical personnel to manually assist respiratory patients with breathing while they were being moved to another floor, the state health department told Reuters on Sunday.
The storm hit the Gulf Coast exactly 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, one of the most catastrophic and deadly storms of all time in the United States, and about a year after the last Category 4 hurricane hit Laura, Louisiana.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said the full effects of the storm would be evident later in the day.
One of the notable buildings destroyed by the storm was the Karnofsky Shop, which is believed to be the first jazz record store in New Orleans.
"We hear of widespread structural damage," Ms. Criswell said in an interview with CNN. "I don't think this storm could have been worse. It will have some significant ramifications."
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East, the state agency that manages the $ 14.5 billion system of levees, flood walls and gates built after Hurricane Katrina, said in a statement that the system worked as planned during Ida .
"There were no dike breaches or overflows … There were no problems with our pumps," said the agency.
Ida lost some of its clout as it penetrated southwest Mississippi, but the system could still cause severe flooding across the region, the National Hurricane Center said.
The National Guard said it had dispatched thousands of personnel, as well as vehicles capable of navigating flooded roads, boats and 34 helicopters, to rescue people stranded from floods.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said he would be coordinating a fleet of boats Monday morning to rescue an estimated 400 residents of Lafitte, a tiny fishing community about 40 miles south of New Orleans who had weathered the storm.
"We have a lot of flooding that has never been seen in these places," Sheriff Lopinto told reporters. "I spoke to a resident who had never had water in his house and last night it was eight feet."
Sheriff Lopinto said the community has large numbers of boats, including some from the Louisiana Cajun Navy, a group of disaster relief volunteers, and expects the operation to be completed by the end of Monday.
"The reality is that the water will continue to recede and, like the other day, we will go door to door to check on people and make sure they come out."
The entire New Orleans metropolitan area has lost power after all eight transmission lines that power the city went down, utility company Entergy Louisiana reported.
A transmission tower collapsed in the Mississippi, said the Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Department.
Just over 1 million Louisiana homes and businesses and nearly 113,000 in Mississippi have been without power, according to tracking site PowerOutage.
Ida beat up US energy suppliers on the Gulf Coast, knocked out most of the region's offshore wells and nearly half of its fuel production, and generally drove up prices.