D.he strong hurricane “Ida” caused massive flooding and damage in the southern US state of Louisiana, according to the first photos and videos. In addition, the electricity went out for at least 600,000 households in the coastal areas due to storm damage. Governor John Bel Edwards warned that the true extent of the destruction in the state will not become apparent until Monday, once the storm has withdrawn in a northeastern direction and rescue and recovery operations can begin.
The hurricane moved slowly over land on Sunday evening as a strong hurricane of level three out of five, which is why the places in its path were exposed to extreme winds and heavy rainfall for a long time. Experts therefore feared great damage. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the cyclone would bring maximum sustained wind speeds of 195 kilometers per hour and even stronger gusts. “Ida” came from the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday afternoon as a force four hurricane hit the coast southwest of the city of New Orleans.
Floods in New Orleans
“Ida” caused a meter high storm surge on some parts of the coast. As US media reported, the force of the incoming water was so strong that the water in the south of New Orleans in Mississippi, according to measurements, flowed upriver for around three hours. Meteorologists also warned that the unusually heavy rainfall triggered by “Ida” could cause further flooding. Emergency services stopped work in the area until Monday for security reasons.
Photos and videos showed houses that were under water, streets that became rivers, covered houses and numerous uprooted trees in the coastal areas. Low-lying areas southwest of the city of New Orleans, for which evacuation orders had previously been issued, were particularly hard hit. The first reports of serious damage also came from the small town of Houma further north with around 30,000 inhabitants, which was directly in the path of the storm. Floods and damage to buildings were also seen in New Orleans.
The power failed in the entire city of New Orleans, as the city operations center announced. “The only electricity in the city comes from generators,” they said. Almost 400,000 people live in New Orleans. In the entire coastal region, according to the electricity supplier, 620,000 households were already without electricity due to storm damage. According to the website Poweroutage.us, there were already almost 750,000 customers in the entire state of Louisiana. The authorities had already warned residents of widespread and possibly long-lasting power outages before the storm arrived.
For the New Orleans region, in which around one million people live, a flood warning was also issued because of the unusually heavy rain.
“Ida” hit land on Sunday noon as an “extremely dangerous level four hurricane”. The NHC warned of heavy rain, a “life-threatening storm surge” and catastrophic gusts of wind. The cyclone brought wind speeds of around 240 kilometers per hour when it reached the coast, said the NHC. With that, “Ida” almost became a storm in the highest category five. The storm system only slowly lost its strength over land and was only downgraded to three out of five after a good six hours.
“Ida” hit land in Louisiana exactly 16 years to the day after the arrival of the devastating Hurricane “Katrina”. “Katrina” had caused catastrophic damage and floods in and around New Orleans. Around 1,800 people were killed at that time. Since then, however, billions have been invested in flood protection in the region.
Biden: “A life-threatening storm”
Governor Edwards declared a state of emergency because of the hurricane, activated the National Guard with around 5,000 soldiers and mobilized hundreds of salvage experts. In addition, thousands of workers were ready to restore the power supply. The US civil protection agency Fema flew hundreds of relief workers and supplies – including millions of meals, drinking water and generators – into the region. Dozens of ambulances and several medical aircraft were also provided. The Coast Guard stationed numerous helicopters and boats for the upcoming rescue operation. The US military was also preparing for an aid mission.
US President Joe Biden visited Fema headquarters in Washington on Sunday because of the storm. “It’s going to be a devastating hurricane, a life-threatening storm,” warned Biden. “To the people of the Gulf Coast, I want you to know that we are praying for the best outcome and preparing for the worst.” Biden pledged the government to support the people. “As soon as the storm passes, we will use all the might in this country to rescue and rebuild,” said Biden.
“Ida” should weaken significantly overland by late Sunday evening. On Monday, the storm should move to northeast Louisiana and eventually west Mississippi. The NHC had issued a storm surge warning for parts of the Mississippi and Alabama coast because of “Ida”.