Cape Breton Post

Ida loses punch, but Louisiana expecting more rain, flooding

- DEVIKA KRISHNA KUMAR

NEW ORLEANS — Ida lost some of its punch over southweste­rn Mississipp­i on Monday after making landfall in Louisiana as one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the region, but it could still trigger heavy flooding, the National Hurricane Center said.

Ida, the first major hurricane to strike the United States this year, made landfall around noon on Sunday as a Category 4 storm over Port Fourchon, a hub of the Gulf's offshore oil industry, packing sustained winds of up to 240 km per hour.

Although weakened to a tropical storm, heavy downpours could bring life-threatenin­g flooding, the NHC said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administra­tor Deanne Criswell said the full impact of the storm was expected to become clear later in the day.

“We're hearing about widespread structural damage,” Criswell said in an interview with CNN. “I don't think there could have been a worse path for this storm. It's going to have some significan­t impacts.”

Federal levees installed to reduce the risk of flooding appeared to have held, according to preliminar­y reports.

“Daylight will bring horrific images as the damage is assessed. More than 20,000 linemen will work to restore the deeply damaged power lines,” Shauna Sanford, communicat­ions director for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards wrote in a tweet.

“The good news: no federal levee failed or was overtopped.”

Kevin Lepine, president of Plaquemine­s Parish, home to 23,000 residents and one of Louisiana's southern most communitie­s, said he had had little sleep overnight as he braced for first light and the chance to go and assess the damage.

“We're worried about the levees down the road,” he said.

On Sunday night, the sheriff's office in Ascension Parish reported the first known U.S. fatality from the storm, a 60-year-old man killed by a tree falling on his home near Baton Rouge, the state capital.

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state, ordering federal assistance to bolster recovery efforts in more than two dozen storm-stricken parishes.

Ida crashed ashore as Louisiana was already reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections that has strained the state's healthcare system, with an estimated 2,450 COVID-19 patients hospitaliz­ed statewide, many in intensive care units.

Its arrival came 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, one of the most catastroph­ic and deadly U.S. storms on record, struck the Gulf Coast, and about a year after the last Category 4 hurricane, Laura, battered Louisiana.

A loss of generator power at the Thibodaux Regional Health System hospital in Lafourche Parish, southwest of New Orleans, forced medical workers to manually assist respirator patients with breathing while they were moved to another floor, the state Health Department confirmed to Reuters.

Within 12 hours of landfall, Ida had plowed a destructiv­e path that submerged much of the state's coastline under several feet of surf, with flash flooding reported by the National Hurricane Center across southeaste­rn Louisiana.

 ?? REUTERS ?? The Karofsky shop suffers severe damage after hurricane Ida pummeled New Orleans with strong winds in Louisiana.
REUTERS The Karofsky shop suffers severe damage after hurricane Ida pummeled New Orleans with strong winds in Louisiana.

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