NEW ORLEANS (AP) —
Hurricane Ida knocked out power to all of New Orleans and inundated coastal Louisiana communities on a deadly path through the Gulf Coast that was still unfolding and promised more destruction.
Forecasters warned of damaging winds, heavy rainfall that could cause flash floods and life-threatening storm surge as Ida continued its rampage Monday through southeastern Louisiana and then moved into Mississippi. It made landfall on the same day 16 years earlier that Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi, and its 150-mph (230 kph) winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the mainland.
Ida was already blamed for at least one death in Louisiana. Deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of someone injured by a fallen tree at a home in Prairieville outside Baton Rouge and confirmed the death, the office said Sunday on Facebook. The victim was not identified.
The power outage in New Orleans, meanwhile, heightened the city’s vulnerability to flooding and left hundreds of thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration in sweltering summer heat.
Ida had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) early Monday — meaning it was a Category 1 hurricane more than 12 hours after it made landfall in southern Louisiana. Forecasters said it would rapidly weaken throughout the morning.
The storm was centered 45 miles (70 kilometers) south-southwest of McComb, a city in southwestern Mississippi. It was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph).
As Ida made landfall Sunday, the rising ocean swamped the barrier island of Grand Isle and roofs on buildings around Port Fourchon blew off. The hurricane then churned through the far southern Louisiana wetlands, putting the more than 2 million people living in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge under threat.
In Baton Rouge, 27-year-old Robert Owens watched the sky in his neighborhood light up as transformers blew up all around him.
“Never in my life have I encountered something this major,” he said as giant gusts rattled his home’s windows.
Significant flooding was reported late Sunday night in LaPlace, a community adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain, meteorologists in New Orleans said. Many people took to social media, pleading for boat rescues as the water rose.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said rescue crews would not be able to immediately help those who were stranded as the storm raged. And he warned his state to brace for potentially weeks of recovery.