Hurricane Ida traps Louisianans and leaves the grid in ruins

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Update: 8:19 a.m.

A fearsome Hurricane Ida left dozens of coastal Louisiana residents trapped in floodwaters and begging for rescue Monday while destroying the power grid across much of the state in the sweltering heat of late l ‘summer.

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the continental United States weakened to an overnight tropical storm as it pushed inland over the Mississippi with torrential rains and howling winds, his danger is far from over.

Ida was blamed for at least one death – someone hit by a falling tree outside Baton Rouge – but the full extent of her fury was still focusing at dawn.

All of New Orleans lost power just as the sun set on Sunday as the hurricane hit the shore on Katrina’s 16th birthday, resulting in a choppy night of pouring rain and howling wind. The weather calmed down shortly before dawn, and people began to wander the neighborhoods cautiously with flashlights, dodging fallen light poles, pieces of roofs and branches.

Vehicles are damaged after a building facade collapsed during Hurricane Ida on Sunday in New Orleans.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Flooding from the rain and the surge in the maze of rivers and bayous south of New Orleans threatened hundreds of homes. On social media, people posted their addresses and directed search and rescue teams to their attics or rooftops.

More than a million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide, increasing their vulnerability to flooding and leaving them without air conditioning or refrigeration.

Entergy said the only electricity in New Orleans came from generators, the city’s emergency office tweeted, citing “catastrophic transmission damage.” The city relies on Entergy for the emergency supply of its rainwater pumps. New Orleans’ levees underwent major improvements after Katrina, but Ida put her biggest test since that disaster.

No major flooding was reported inside the flood control system that protects New Orleans, but with spotty communications and no electricity, the extent of damage across the city was not immediately clear.

In Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans, the hurricane twisted a major power transmission tower along the Mississippi River, causing widespread blackouts and disrupting river traffic, the director told NPR from emergency management, Joe Valiente.

“100% of the network is broken, hundreds of telephone poles broken, trees hit power lines and just tore them out,” said Valiente, who estimated there were 10 parishes including the entire power grid. had collapsed. He said it could take six weeks to fully restore power.

Almost every home in Jefferson Parish reported roof damage and the water pressure was low, Valiente said.

Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told NBC the parish has yet to respond to at least 200 emergency calls and emergency officials have not heard from Grand Isle since Sunday. afternoon. About 40 people remained on Barrier Island, which suffered the brunt of the hurricane and was submerged by the sieges.

A person crosses the street during a hurricane.

A person crosses the street on Sunday in New Orleans.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Ida’s winds of 150 mph matched it for the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the continent. Its winds had dropped to 60 mph by early Monday, and forecasters said it would weaken quickly while dumping heavy rain over a large area.

In the southwest corner of the Mississippi, entire neighborhoods were surrounded by floodwaters and many roads were impassable.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned the state on Sunday night that he would face gloomy days of cleanup without electricity. But he added, “There is always light after darkness, and I can assure you that we will get through it. “

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