Storm Ida: First death reported as a million people left without power

‘Once the storm has passed, you need to be prepared to shelter in place for the first 72 hours,’ governor tells residents

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 30 August 2021 14:55
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Hurricane Ida brings flooding to Mississippi
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The first death stemming from Storm Ida has been reported as one million people have been left without power.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said on Sunday night that it had received reports that a person had been injured by a falling tree in Prairieville, Louisiana, southeast of Baton Rouge. Deputies at the scene confirmed that the person had died, the first death reported since the storm hit the US mainland.

Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina that devastated the state in 2005 between 23 and 31 August.

According to the National Hurricane Centre, Ida moved inland as a category 4 storm with winds measuring up to 150mph. By 10pm ET, it had moved down to a category 2 storm with winds of up to 110mph.

In Louisiana, more than a million people are without power, as well as 100,000 in Mississippi.

Entergy New Orleans said in a Sunday night alert that all of Orleans parish had lost power “due to catastrophic transmission damage”.

City officials said that the only power in the city is now coming from generators. All eight transmission lines that serve the city were taken out by the storm, Entergy said, with the lack of power putting a stop to the operation of sewage pumping stations.

The Sewage and Water Board of New Orleans told CNN: “Currently there is no backup power to operate any of those that were impacted.”

“We are assessing how many of the 84 stations are impacted but the number may be very significant,” they added. “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.”

Sheriff Craig Webre in Lafourche Parish said his law enforcement officers were unable to answer calls as of Sunday night because every road in the area was obstructed. With a curfew issued for the parish, the sheriff said they’re “going to set up checkpoints to aggressively enforce” it.

Lafourche Parish president Archie Chaisson III said during a press briefing that parts of the area will be without water “for some part of the foreseeable future” following a water main line break.

President Joe Biden granted a request from Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Sunday night to declare the storm a major disaster and order federal agencies to help state and local authorities with the recovery efforts.

“Hurricane Ida is one of the strongest storms to ever hit Louisiana,” the governor said in a statement. “It is our goal to assist our local agencies and the citizens of the state as quickly as possible, and we have pre-positioned search and rescue teams, boats and other assets to begin helping people as soon as it is safe.”

Ida has tied Hurricane Laura from 2020 and the Last Island Hurricane in 1856 as the state’s most powerful storm in history.

Mr Edwards urged residents to stay indoors and be patient as it could take quite some time for first responders to reach those who need help.

“Once the storm has passed, you need to be prepared to shelter in place for the first 72 hours,” Mr Edwards said. “We have every possible resource ready to go, to help you. We’ll get there sooner than 72 hours if at all possible, in order to rescue people across the state of Louisiana.”

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