A fearsome Hurricane Ida left scores of coastal Louisiana residents trapped by floodwaters and pleading to be rescued this morning while making shambles of the electrical grid across a wide swath of the state.
One of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. mainland weakened into a tropical storm overnight as it pushed inland over Mississippi with torrential rain and shrieking winds, its danger far from over.
Ida was blamed for at least one death—someone hit by a falling tree outside Baton Rouge—but the full extent of its fury was still coming into focus at daybreak.
All of New Orleans lost power right around sunset Sunday as the hurricane blew ashore on the 16th anniversary of Katrina, leading to an uneasy night of pouring rain and howling wind. The weather died down shortly before dawn, and people began carefully walking around neighborhoods with flashlights, dodging downed light poles, pieces of roofs and branches. It was a similar story in Baton Rouge, where much of the city and East Baton Rouge Parish woke up without power.
More than a million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide, increasing their vulnerability to flooding and leaving them without air conditioning and refrigeration.
Entergy said the only power in New Orleans was coming from generators, the city’s emergency office tweeted, citing “catastrophic transmission damage.” The city relies on Entergy for backup power for its stormwater pumps. New Orleans’ levees underwent major improvements after Katrina, but Ida posed its biggest test since that disaster.
No major flooding was reported inside the flood control system that protects New Orleans, but with communications spotty and no power, the extent of the damage across the city was not immediately clear.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned the state late Sunday that it faces dark days of cleanup without power. But he added: “There is always light after darkness, and I can assure you we are going to get through this.” Read more.