Thousands of rescuers using boats, helicopters and trucks set about bringing hundreds of people to safety from flooded areas of Louisiana, USA, after storm surge and heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ida.
The Louisiana National Guard said it activated 4,900 Guard personnel and lined up 195 high-water vehicles, 73 rescue boats and 34 helicopters. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said that as of 30 August the National Guard had rescued 191 people across Jefferson, Orleans and St. John the Baptist parishes. Teams from police, emergency management and fire services are also working in affected areas. According to the governor, the state has deployed more than 1,600 personnel to conduct search and rescue across Louisiana.
Hundreds of people evacuated their homes to avoid the storm. As of 30 August, over 2,200 evacuees were staying in 41 shelters, a number expected to rise as people were rescued or escaped flooded homes.
Hurricane Ida was blamed for 2 fatalities in Louisiana — a motorist who drowned after he attempted to drive through floodwater near the I-10 in New Orleans, and a person hit by a falling tree near Baton Rouge.
Wide areas of Louisiana and some coastal areas of Mississippi were flooded after storm surge and heavy rainfall of up to 15 inches (381 mm). In Louisiana, flooding was reported in areas of Grand Isle, Golden Meadow, LaPlace, Mandeville, Ponchatoula, Hammond, Algiers, Alliance, Slidell, Cocodrie, New Sarpy and Lafitte, among others. In Mississippi, the more significant flooding was reported in Gulfport, Biloxi and Bay St. Louis.
Governor Edwards suggested the flooding could have been much worse in Louisiana and many areas that saw catastrophic floods during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were spared this time around due to the improved levee system.
“While this was an extremely catastrophic storm, if there is a silver lining our levee systems performed extremely well, particularly the hurricane risk reduction system in metro New Orleans. We don’t believe single levee was breached/failed,” the governor said.
However, the flood threat remains as river levels rise. National Weather Service in New Orleans said “The winds have relaxed and the surge is lowering but we aren’t done with the impacts. With widespread 10-15″ of rain (probably higher in some areas due to underestimation) many local rivers are expected to be in moderate to major flood.”
Ida’s strong winds (150 mph / 230 km/h) made it the fifth-strongest hurricane ever to hit mainland USA. Winds ravaged the electrical grid and more than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi were left without power. Governor Edwards added that 18 water systems were also knocked out affecting over 300,000 customers, while boil orders are in effect for another 329,000 customers.
Power and telecommunications outages along with blocked roads mean the full extent of the damage is not yet known.
“There are certainly more questions than answers. I can’t tell you when the power is going to be restored. I can’t tell you when all the debris is going to be cleaned up and repairs made,” Governor Edwards said. “But what I can tell you is we are going to work hard every day to deliver as much assistance as we can.
Sharing some pics of #Ida’s damage around town. This is an extremely hazardous situation and we encourage everyone to stay off the roads. 911 service remains out at this time. pic.twitter.com/6FNNhiXfBF
— NOLA Ready (@nolaready) August 30, 2021