Hurricane Ida, the fifth-strongest to ever hit the mainland United States, has finally been downgraded to a tropical storm after spending 16 hours churning across Louisiana in what Joe Biden declared a “major disaster”.
Two people were confirmed dead in the storm’s aftermath, with the death toll expected to rise “considerably”.
Intensifying faster than experts had predicted, the weather system blasted into New Orleans exactly 16 years to the day after the devastating Hurricane Katrina, where it knocked power out across the city, tore off roofs and even reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.
Residents of the Gulf Coast evacuated their homes and businesses were shut down as much of the Louisiana coastline was plunged underwater. The hurricane claimed at least one life, after a tree fell onto a residential property in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards lamented that, “if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing”, warning residents of his state to brace for potentially weeks of recovery.
It was declared a tropical storm on Monday by the National Hurricane Centre, which warned that dangerous storm surges, damaging winds, and flash flooding would continue over portions of southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
Ida slows to Category 3, six hours after making landfall
Hurricane Ida has downgraded to Category 3, six hours after first began battering the Louisiana coast as a Category 4 storm.
As the weather system passes over land, it has lost some of the energy it picked up crossing the relatively warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Terrifying wind caught on video in Grand Isle, Louisiana
This terrifying video found by the Weather Channel gives an indication of how bad the winds are for many in Louisiana today.
Neighbours helping out
Although many thousands have fled coastal Louisiana ahead of the storm, others have stayed behind.
New Orleans sports journalist Luke Johnson noticed one New Orleans braving the conditions to cover a neighbour’s window after it blew out in the storm.
He is one of hundreds of thousands in the city now without power.
Power goes out across New Orleans as 1 million hit by outages across state
Hurricane Ida has knocked out power to all of New Orleans, home to 390,000 people, leaving those who remained there without air conditioning and refrigeration in sweltering summer heat.
The city's power supplier — Entergy — confirmed that the only power in the city was coming from generators, the city's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness said on Twitter. The message included a screenshot that cited “catastrophic transmission damage” for the power failure.
The city relies on Entergy for backup power for the pumps that remove storm water from city streets. Rain from Ida is expected to test that pump system.
Overall, more than 1 million customers in Louisiana were without power, and another 60,000 or so in Mississippi were in the dark, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.
Biden declares major disaster
Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Louisiana, making federal aid available to the state .
This funding includes assistance for individuals to help secure temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.
The president said the country was praying for the best for the state and would put its "full might behind the rescue and recovery" effort once the storm passes.
Hurricane now Category 1
By the small hours of Monday morning, Central Daylight Time, Ida had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph — meaning it was a Category 1 hurricane more than 12 hours after it made landfall.
Forecasters said it would rapidly weaken throughout the morning.
It made landfall as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of up to 150 mph. While it soon slowed to a Category 3, authorities had said this did not mean a reduced threat.
Louisiana governor warns state to brace for weeks of recovery
Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards has warned his state to brace for potentially weeks of recovery.
“Many, many people are going to be tested in ways that we can only imagine today,” the governor told a news conference on Sunday.
He added: “There is always light after darkness, and I can assure you we are going to get through this.”
Ida was churning in one of the nation's most important industrial corridors — home to a large number of petrochemical sites.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was in contact with more than 1,500 oil refineries, chemical plants and other sensitive facilities and will respond to any reported pollution leaks or petroleum spills, agency spokesman Greg Langley said.
Louisiana is also home to two nuclear power plants, one near New Orleans and another about 27 miles northwest of Baton Rouge.
Here are some images of the devastation caused by the hurricane.
And here’s an image from the emergency operation tonight, as firefighters cut through trees on the road in Bourg.
A nurse has captured the moment Ida tore part of the roof off a building at Ochsner Medical Centre in Jefferson, according to a local news producer.
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