Hurricane Ida lashes Louisiana, New Orleans loses power as storm strikes

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Intl desk, Aug 30: The US city of New Orleans has lost power, with only generators working, as Hurricane Ida batters Louisiana.

The center of Hurricane Ida is 30 miles west of New Orleans, according to a 9 p.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center.

Ida maintains Category 3 strength, but has weakened slightly with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.

Hurricane-force winds continue to move through southern Louisiana along with heavy rain producing flash flooding.

Moments ago, regional energy provider Entergy moments ago reported all of Orleans Parish is without power “due to catastrophic transmission damage” caused by Hurricane Ida.

The news came from the City of New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which shared the Entergy alert.

Hurricane Ida, which made landfall as a fierce Category 4 storm, plowed through the Gulf of Mexico into Louisiana on Sunday, lashing the coast with 150 mile-per-hour winds, torrential downpours and pounding surf that plunged much of the shoreline under several feet of water.

With communities in the most vulnerable coastal areas ordered to evacuate in advance, residents riding out the storm in their homes braced for the toughest test yet of major upgrades to a levee system constructed following devastating floods in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina.

Sixteen years to the day after Katrina made landfall, Ida slammed ashore around noon near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a hub of the Gulf’s offshore energy industry, blasting the coast with hurricane-force winds extending 50 miles (80 km) out from the eye of the storm.

Less than 100 miles inland to the north, flash-flood warnings were issued for downtown New Orleans, where emergency medical services were suspended earlier in the day in the most populous city of a state already reeling from a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

“I almost found myself in a panic attack when news announced this was the anniversary of Katrina,” Janet Rucker, a lifelong New Orleans resident and recently retired sales manager who evacuated to a downtown hotel with her dog, Duece, on Friday night. “This is just not good for our nerves and our psyche.”

Farren Clark, an assistant professor at Nicholls State University who studied Katrina’s impact and was riding out the storm at his mother’s home in Thibodaux, Louisiana, called the arrival of Ida “nerve-wracking.”

“I can hear the howl of the storm getting stronger,” he told Reuters by phone. “Having done research on Katrina, it is a little bit triggering.”

Officials of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they expected the city’s newly reinforced levees to hold, though they said they said the flood walls could be overtopped in some places.

“This is one of the strongest storms to make landfall here in modern times,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said at a news briefing.

Hundreds of miles of new levees were built around New Orleans after flooding from Katrina inundated much of the low-lying city, especially historically Black neighborhoods. That monster storm claimed more than 1,800 lives.

Edwards voiced confidence in the billions of dollars in levee improvements since then, saying they were “built for this moment.”

Source: News Agencies