Hurricane Ida traps Louisianans, shatters the power grid, an estimated $40 billion in damages, US
Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coastline near Port Fourchon in the US as a Category 4 hurricane. Rescuers in boats, helicopters and high-water trucks brought hundreds of people trapped by Hurricane Ida’s floodwaters to safety Monday and utility repair crews rushed in, after the furious storm swamped the Louisiana coast and ravaged the electrical grid in the stifling, late-summer heat. Troops staged 195 high-water vehicles and 73 rescue boats across south Louisiana, as well as 34 helicopters to support search and rescue, evacuation and reconnaissance missions as needed, according to the National Guard. Residents living amid the maze of rivers and bayous along the state’s Gulf Coast retreated desperately to their attics or roofs and posted their addresses on social media with instructions for search-and-rescue teams on where to find them. More than one million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi, including all of New Orleans, were left without power as Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the US mainland, pushed through on Sunday.
Hurricane Ida was the second most intense hurricane to strike the US state of Louisiana on record, only behind Hurricane Katrina and is tied for the strongest landfall in the state by maximum winds with Hurricane Laura a year prior and the 1856 Last Island hurricane. Ida was the ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, and second major hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, Ida developed on Thursday, 26 August 2021 in the western Caribbean Sea.
Tropical Depression Nine intensified into Tropical Storm Ida later that day near Grand Cayman. With favourable conditions, Ida intensified into a hurricane on 27 August 2021 while moving over western Cuba. A day later, the hurricane underwent rapid intensification due to very warm sea surface temperatures and light wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico. Ida reached a peak intensity as it approached the northern Gulf coast, with maximum sustained winds of 240km/h and a minimum central pressure of 929mbar (27.4 inHg). On Sunday, 28 August 2021, the hurricane made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Ida weakened over land, weakening into a tropical depression on Monday, 30 August 2021, as it turned to the north and northeast. On September 1, the former hurricane transitioned into a post-tropical cyclone as it accelerated through the northeastern United States, before moving out into the Atlantic on the next day.
Ida knocked down palm trees and destroyed many homes in Cuba during its brief passage over the country. Throughout its path of destruction in Louisiana, more than a million people had no power in total. Widespread heavy infrastructural damage occurred throughout the southeastern portion of the state, as well as extremely heavy flooding in coastal areas. New Orleans' levees survived, though power damage was extensive throughout the whole city. There also were high amounts of plant destruction in the state. The storm has caused at least $15 billion in insured losses in Louisiana. The remnants of the storm produced a destructive tornado outbreak and catastrophic flash flooding in the Northeastern United States. Flooding in New York City prompted the shutdown of much of the transportation system. As of 2 September 2021, 28 direct deaths have been confirmed in relation to Ida; fourteen in New Jersey, eight in New York, three in Louisiana, two in Mississippi, and one in Maryland. The storm has caused four indirect deaths, including a Louisiana man mauled to death by an alligator after walking through Ida's floodwaters. Two electrical workers died while repairing power grid damage caused by the storm. In New Orleans, a man was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, while working on a generator with inadequate ventilation.
Recovery from the massive blackout in New Orleans is estimated to take about four weeks. The Massachusetts Task Force sent an 80-member team to Baton Rouge to help with the impacts of Ida on 29 August 2021. The team comprised emergency medical technicians; doctors; structure, communication, and logistics specialists and emergency room technicians, among others. People in lower-income communities who had attempted to flee disaster zones experienced difficulty in affording travel-related costs. States such as Texas and South Carolina and national non-profits also gathered donations to distribute to victims and to help in search and rescue operations. Over 5 000 national guard members were deployed and more than 25 000 workers nationwide came in support of recovery efforts. US President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state, which allowed for extra funding and recovery. Sweltering weather conditions following Ida worsened the living quality of many surviving residents without power and food. People in outer New Orleans fled to their roofs to escape floodwaters. More than 2 million were placed under heat advisories after Ida passed. Officials said that power may not be restored to some for up to a month, a delay that could be life-threatening because of intense heat.
The Louisiana National Guard activated 4 900 guard personnel and dispatched about 200 high-water vehicles along with more than 70 rescue boats and 30 helicopters. By the afternoon of 30 August 2021, 191 people and 27 pets were rescued after crews checked 400 homes. Governor John Bel Edwards said the damage was "catastrophic" and that officials believe the death toll "could rise considerably". Some people had to be ushered back to flood zones during rescues. Tulane University announced plans to evacuate its campus of all remaining students and to take them to Houston. Many people fled to stores to get food and water and to gas stations to get fuel. John Bel Edwards said in a preliminary survey of the state's levees that they worked as intended and held water out.
States of emergency were declared in New York, including in New York City, and New Jersey. Several New Jersey public school districts delayed or cancelled classes because of flooding or severe weather damage. Newark Liberty International Airport suffered flooding in the terminals and all departures were grounded. Operations continued the following morning with flight delays and cancellations.
After the storm passed, nearly all of the oil production along the gulf coast was shut-in. Thousands of crew members of different areas of experience were deployed in Louisiana and hundreds were rescued. Power outages were expected to take weeks, possibly up to a month. States of emergency were declared for Louisiana and portions of the Northeast.