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Category 4 Hurricane Ida Lashes Louisiana with Winds Over 170 MPH

Hurricane Ida
Hurricane Ida barreled ashore on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, bringing winds of over 150 mph. Credit: College of DuPage BY-SA 4.0

Terrible scenes of destruction unfolded on Monday in Louisiana after the landfall of Hurricane Ida, which had winds in excess of 172 miles per hour (277 km per hour) when it slammed ashore on Sunday morning as a Category 4 storm.

Sunday was the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the most devastating natural disaster to ever befall Louisiana, when levees protecting the city overtopped and catastrophic flooding ensued, killing 1,833 people.

Ida’s winds clocked in on Sunday morning at 172 miles per hour at Port Fourchon and they were measured at 145 miles per hour (233 km per hour) at Grand Isle, Louisiana — before the anemometer broke. This was the case in more than one area so it is impossible to know for sure exactly how strong the winds were in many areas.

Rooftops peeled off buildings in New Orleans and other areas.

At least two people are now known dead as Hurricane Ida moves slowly inland across central Alabama as it makes its way toward the northeast. Now a tropical storm, she still has winds that can damage buildings and flooding is still a great risk. On Monday afternoon Ida appeared completely stalled over Alabama, and according to the radar it will remain over the state into the evening.

LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans, told residents to prepare to leave home for at least 72 hours early on Sunday since it was unknown when power and other services could be restored.

Hurricane Ida spares New Orleans widespread destruction

The Sheriff’s Office of Ascension Parish said that it had received reports shortly after 8:30 PM. of a person injured from a fallen tree in Prairieville, Louisiana, about 18 minutes southeast of Baton Rouge.

After arriving on the scene, the deputy confirmed the victim’s death. This is the first death reported from the storm.

Another person drowned in their car when New Orleans flooded on Sunday, according to the mayor when she briefed the press on Monday. She said that further details would be released later by the coroner.

Cantrell explained that while there were some collapsed and damaged buildings in the city, New Orleans had fortunately escaped “widespread structural destruction.”

Most of the levees which hold back the Mississippi and Lake Ponchartrain, the drinking water source for the city, appear to have held, which was one of the main concerns of the city officials. The failure of multiple levees was the reason why so many died and there was such widespread destruction of the Ninth Ward and other areas of New Orleans sixteen years ago.

However one levee, at Plaquemines Parish, overtopped, resulting in flooding in the town of Braithwaite, with residents having to head to their roofs to escape the waters.

As of Monday afternoon, much of southeast Louisiana, including New Orleans, still remains without 911 service, however, after the routing facility that directs calls to each parish’s dispatch center stopped working, according to reports from the Weather Channel.

Tyrell Morris, the head of emergency communications in New Orleans, told reporters on the ground there that AT&T was working to restore operations and the city is working on a system so that people will be able to text 911.

Ida made landfall earlier Sunday — on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

A power station which was rated to withstand a Cat 4 hurricane had its roof blown off and was forced to go offline, putting the surrounding cities and towns in darkness. Workers in hospitals were forced to give patients oxygen by hand pump after losing power.

Approximately one million customers are still without power in the region on Monday, according to PowerOutage.US, with the vast majority of them in Louisiana.

The power company Entergy New Orleans had sent out an alert on Sunday evening telling the public that the entire Orleans Parish was without power “due to catastrophic transmission damage.”

According to city officials, eight transmission lines bringing power to the city are down and the only power in New Orleans at this time is coming from generators.

Entergy and Cleco are reporting that more than 960,000 of their customers were without power as of 10 AM on Monday.

According to Phillip May of Entergy, more than 850,000 customers are without power in the city of New Orleans alone.

As often happens during catastrophic storms, the power outage was hindering the operation of sewer pumping stations.

“Currently there is no backup power to operate any of those that were impacted,” officials from the Sewage and Water Board of New Orleans told CNN. “We are assessing how many of the 84 stations are impacted but the number may be very significant.”
“In order to prevent sewage backups, we have asked residents to limit water usage at home, thus decreasing the amount of wastewater we must pump and treat,” the officials added.
Sheriff Craig Webre of Lafourche Parish told CNN that every road in the parish is impassable, and agencies are simply unable to respond to calls for help at this time. There was a curfew already in place for the parish by Sunday night, however, “and we’re going to set up checkpoints to aggressively enforce that curfew,” the sheriff declared.
Trouble was afoot on the Mississippi River as well, which had whitecaps and gigantic waves on Sunday; normally it presents a glassy surface as it meanders its way slowly to the Gulf. A total of twenty-two barges and two large ferry boats are still drifting loose in the river near St. Bernard’s Parish, posting a great danger to each other — and even the levees which line the river if they run into these embankments.
On Sunday night, when the barges slipped their moorings, the winds were still blowing at 90 miles per hour.

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