Hurricane Ida lashes Louisiana, knocks out New Orleans power

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By KEVIN MCGILL and JAY REEVES

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Ida blasted ashore Sunday arsenic 1 of the astir almighty storms ever to deed the U.S., knocking retired powerfulness to each of New Orleans, blowing roofs disconnected buildings and reversing the travel of the Mississippi River arsenic it rushed from the Louisiana seashore into 1 of the nation’s astir important concern corridors.

The Category 4 tempest deed connected the aforesaid day Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier, coming ashore astir 45 miles (72 kilometers) westbound of wherever Category 3 Katrina archetypal struck land. Ida’s 150-mph (230 kph) winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever deed the mainland U.S. It dropped hours aboriginal to a Category 3 tempest with maximum winds of 115 mph (193 kph) arsenic it crawled inland, its oculus 30 miles (48 kilometers) westbound of New Orleans.

The rising water swamped the obstruction land of Grand Isle arsenic landfall came conscionable to the westbound astatine Port Fourchon. Ida made a 2nd landfall astir 2 hours aboriginal adjacent Galliano. The hurricane was churning done the acold confederate Louisiana wetlands, with the much than 2 cardinal radical surviving successful and astir New Orleans and Baton Rouge nether threat.

“This is going to beryllium overmuch stronger than we usually spot and, rather frankly, if you had to gully up the worst imaginable way for a hurricane successful Louisiana, it would beryllium thing very, precise adjacent to what we’re seeing,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told The Associated Press.

People successful Louisiana woke up to a monster tempest aft Ida’s apical winds grew by 45 mph (72 kph) successful 5 hours arsenic the hurricane moved done immoderate of the warmest water h2o successful the satellite successful the bluish Gulf of Mexico.

The full metropolis of New Orleans precocious Sunday was without power, according to metropolis officials. The city’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness said connected Twitter that vigor institution Entergy confirmed that the lone powerfulness successful the metropolis was coming from generators. The connection included a surface changeable that cited “catastrophic transmission damage” for the powerfulness failure.

Wind tore astatine awnings, h2o spilled retired of Lake Ponchartrain successful New Orleans, and boats broke escaped from their moorings. The Coast Guard bureau successful New Orleans received much than a twelve reports of breakaway barges, said Petty Officer Gabriel Wisdom. In Lafitte astir 35 miles (56 km) southbound of New Orleans, a escaped barge struck a bridge, according to Jefferson Parish officials.

Elsewhere, engineers detected a “negative flow” connected the Mississippi River arsenic a effect of tempest surge, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Ricky Boyette said.

Edwards said helium watched a unrecorded video provender from astir Port Fourchon arsenic Ida came ashore.

“The tempest surge is conscionable tremendous. We tin spot the roofs person been blown disconnected of the larboard buildings successful galore places,” Edwards told the AP.

Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a fewer thunderstorms to a monolithic hurricane successful conscionable 3 days near nary clip to signifier a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans’ 390,000 residents. Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents remaining successful the metropolis connected Sunday to “hunker down.”

Marco Apostolico said helium felt assured riding retired the tempest astatine his location successful New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward, 1 of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods erstwhile levees failed and released a torrent of floodwater during Katrina.

His location was among those rebuilt with the assistance of histrion Brad Pitt to withstand hurricane-force winds. But the representation of Katrina inactive hung implicit the latest storm.

“It’s evidently a batch of dense feelings,” helium said. “And yeah, perchance scary and dangerous.”

The portion getting Ida’s worst includes petrochemical sites and large ports, which could prolong important damage. It is besides an country that is already reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections owed to debased vaccination rates and the highly contagious delta variant.

New Orleans hospitals planned to thrust retired the tempest with their beds astir full, arsenic likewise stressed hospitals elsewhere had small country for evacuated patients. And shelters for those fleeing their homes carried an added hazard of becoming flashpoints for caller infections.

Forecasters warned winds stronger than 115 mph (185 kph) threatened Houma, a metropolis of 33,000 that supports lipid platforms successful the Gulf.

The hurricane was besides threatening neighboring Mississippi, wherever Katrina demolished oceanfront homes. With Ida approaching, Claudette Jones evacuated her location eastbound of Gulfport, Mississippi, arsenic waves started pounding the shore.

“I’m praying I tin spell backmost to a mean location similar I left,” she said. “That’s what I’m praying for. But I’m not definite astatine this point.”

Comparisons to the Aug. 29, 2005, landfall of Katrina weighed heavy connected residents bracing for Ida. Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths arsenic it caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding successful New Orleans. Ida’s hurricane-force winds stretched 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the storm’s eye, oregon astir fractional the size of Katrina, and a New Orleans’ infrastructure authoritative emphasized that the metropolis is successful a “very antithetic spot than it was 16 years ago.”

The levee strategy has been massively overhauled since Katrina, Ramsey Green, lawman main administrative serviceman for infrastructure, said earlier the worst of the tempest hit. While h2o whitethorn not penetrate levees, Green said if forecasts of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rainfall beryllium true, the city’s underfunded and neglected web of pumps, underground pipes and aboveground canals apt won’t beryllium capable to support up.

Roughly 815,000 customers astir Louisiana were already without powerfulness Sunday aft nightfall, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was successful interaction with much than 1,500 lipid refineries, chemic plants and different delicate facilities and volition respond to immoderate reported contamination leaks oregon petroleum spills, bureau spokesperson Greg Langley said. He said the bureau would deploy 3 mobile air-monitoring laboratories aft the tempest passes to sample, analyse and study immoderate threats to nationalist health.

Louisiana’s 17 lipid refineries relationship for astir one-fifth of the U.S. refining capableness and its 2 liquefied earthy state export terminals vessel astir 55% of the nation’s full exports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Government statistic amusement that 95% of lipid and state accumulation successful the Gulf Coast portion was unopen down arsenic Ida made landfall connected Sunday, according to vigor institution S&P Global Platts.

Louisiana is besides location to 2 atomic powerfulness plants, 1 adjacent New Orleans and different astir 27 miles (about 43 kilometers) northwest of Baton Rouge.

President Joe Biden approved exigency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi up of Ida’s arrival. He said Sunday the state was praying for the champion for Louisiana and would enactment its “full mightiness down the rescue and recovery” effort erstwhile the tempest passes.

Edwards warned his authorities to brace for perchance weeks of recovery.

“Many, galore radical are going to beryllium tested successful ways that we tin lone ideate today,” the politician told a quality conference.

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Reeves reported from Gulfport, Mississippi. Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana, Stacey Plaisance and Janet McConnaughey successful New Orleans; Emily Wagster Pettus successful Jackson, Mississippi; Jeff Martin successful Marietta, Georgia; Seth Borenstein successful Kensington, Maryland; Frank Bajak successful Boston; Michael Biesecker and Martin Crutsinger successful Washington; Pamela Sampson and Sudhin Thanawala successful Atlanta; and Jeffrey Collins successful Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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