UPDATE: Catastrophic wind damage left a million people without power and thousands displaced, now the priority turns to rebuilding Southeast Louisiana after Hurricane Ida’s path of destruction.
The storm quickly escalated from a category 2 to a category 4 just as it slammed into the Louisiana Coast at noon on Sunday, Aug. 29 – 16 years to the date Cat. 3 Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans when rising water from the Mississippi River breached the levees and flooded 80 percent of the city.
Even after Ida exited New Orleans, the relentless storm was still an organized Cat. 1 hurricane by the time it reached further inland to the state capital in Baton Rouge.
Like Katrina, Ida left the state battered and bruised.
Power and water outages are expected for weeks, and local, state and national leaders are urging residents to remain calm and stay indoors as rescue and recovery efforts continue into September.
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — We’re getting our first widespread look at Ida’s aftermath in Louisiana Monday after the monster storm came ashore near the barrier island of Grand Isle Sunday with violent winds of 150 mph (241 kph).
WGNO is in live wall-to-wall coverage as we cover Ida’s impact on the state. We will be live-streaming our TV segments non-stop throughout the duration of the event.
Ida knocked out power to all of New Orleans and inundated coastal Louisiana communities on a deadly path through the Gulf Coast that was still unfolding Monday, promising more destruction.
The heavy rain and storm surge has already had a catastrophic impact along the southeast coast of Louisiana, and life-threatening floods along rivers was continuing well inland as torrential rain kept falling, forecast to dump as much as two feet in places as Ida’s center moved over Mississippi.
Ida made landfall on the same day 16 years earlier that Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi. It was already blamed for one death, someone hit by a falling tree in Prairieville, outside Baton Rouge, deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Sunday.
The power outage in New Orleans, meanwhile, heightened the city’s vulnerability to flooding and left hundreds of thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration in the sweltering summer heat.
The 911 system in Orleans Parish also experienced technical difficulties early Monday. Anyone needing emergency assistance was urged to go to their nearest fire station or approach their nearest officer, the New Orleans Emergency Communications Center tweeted.
Ida finally became a tropical storm again 16 hours after making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane.
Significant flooding was reported late Sunday night in LaPlace, a community adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain, meteorologists in New Orleans said. Many people took to social media, pleading for boat rescues as the water rose.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said rescue crews would not be able to immediately help those who were stranded as the storm raged. And he warned his state to brace for potentially weeks of recovery.
“Many, many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,” the governor told a news conference Sunday.
But he added, “There is always light after darkness, and I can assure you we are going to get through this.”
Overall, more than 1 million customers in Louisiana were without power, and another 80,000 or so in Mississippi were in the dark, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.
In New Orleans, wind tore at awnings and caused buildings to sway and water to spill out of Lake Pontchartrain. The Coast Guard office there received more than a dozen reports of breakaway barges, said Petty Officer Gabriel Wisdom. Officials said Ida’s swift intensification to a massive hurricane in just three days left no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans’ 390,000 residents.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Louisiana. He said Sunday the country was praying for the best for the state and would put its “full might behind the rescue and recovery” effort once the storm passes.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)