Exactly 16 years to the day after the devastating passage of Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana experienced Hurricane Ida on Sunday, one of the most powerful in decades, which swept its banks. By late Sunday evening, nearly 1 million households were without electricity as extreme winds and flash floods continued in the southeastern state.
Posted on Aug 29, 2021 at 9:42 am Updated Aug 30, 2021 at 12:34 pm
Alice Girard-Bossé The Press
In Houma, southwest of New Orleans, the storm hit hard, giving a taste of what to expect for all Louisians on Monday.
“The wind is increasing. I have water coming in through a window and the bushes outside have been uprooted. The tree in our back yard is falling, ”Amanda Stewart, a Houma resident, told La Presse.
Outside the situation changed rapidly. “The building behind us is falling apart. The fence is bending like it’s about to explode, ”she said.
We will continue to grapple with the situation at home, but the noises we hear are worse than anything else. The sound of falling trees pushes our bowels.
Amanda Stewart, resident of Houma, Louisiana
Hurricane Ida, Category 4 out of 5 maximum, landed near Port Fourchon, Louisiana at around 11:55 a.m. local time. The wind reached 240 km / h.
Several hours after arriving on Earth, Ida was still a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 215 km / h. “Usually hurricanes lose their intensity quickly when they hit Earth. On the other hand, the marshy, very humid and very hot soil in southern Louisiana allows the hurricane to maintain its intensity, ”explained Félix Biron, MétéoMédia meteorologist. At around 9 p.m. on Sunday, the hurricane was downgraded to Category 3.
By late Sunday evening, nearly 1 million households were without power when the hurricane continued inland in southeast Louisiana. All of New Orleans had no electricity. The only electricity in the city was from generators, said NOLA Ready, the city of New Orleans’ emergency preparedness campaign.
The Ascension sheriff’s office in Louisiana confirmed the death of a person in a Facebook post on Sunday evening.
“I’m in the middle of the hurricane. I tried to leave but couldn’t find any gas nearby. I wasn’t prepared for the hurricane to move to Category 4, ”said Brent Stubbs, who lives in New Orleans.
“Normally I would have to barricade my windows, but I didn’t have time,” added Mr Stubbs, who had lost three windows.
“It’s a stressful time for everyone and we hope the damage will be minimal,” said Shelley Hickman, who lives in Covington, also Louisiana.
Most Louisiana stores and gas stations were closed on Sundays. All flights to and from New Orleans have been canceled. Curfews and compulsory or voluntary evacuations have been imposed in many cities.
“Covington has been under curfew since noon today [dimanche] and will stay until the storm is over, probably tomorrow [lundi]. If you are coming by car, be prepared to explain what you are doing as you drive, ”said Hickman.
Schools and several public places served as emergency shelters. ” [À Covington]”Pets are welcome in one of the shelters, in another there are people who depend on energy or electricity, such as people who use dialysis machines and machines, and one last one is for those who need it,” said the resident the end.
People who go there should bring their own bedding, food and water, as well as emergency supplies, Hickman said.
Residents who wanted to stay in their homes had to prepare accordingly. “The wind is very strong, there is a lot of cleaning going on. I’m worried, but I’m very well prepared, ”said Joseph Makkos, who lives in New Orleans.
The man who decided to take shelter at his home refueled and bought supplies for the next few days. “My truck is also loaded and ready to drive if necessary. ”
Ms. Hickman also went to fetch water, food, and a small generator.
An often affected state
This isn’t the first time Amanda Stewart has been in the middle of a hurricane. “We just have to take shelter until it’s over,” said the woman who has always lived in southern Louisiana.
The Gulf of Mexico is a very hot place and very conducive to the formation of hurricanes, says the meteorologist Félix Biron. Louisiana is therefore often affected.
In general, the hurricane risk is greatest in August, September and October, when the temperature of the Atlantic water is high enough to favor a tropical cyclone.
Hurricane Ida is the ninth hurricane of the year. Hurricane names are based on an alphabetical list that alternates between female and male names. So far, in 2021, there have been Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Esla, Fred, Grace, Henri and Ida.
Great potential for destruction
From a meteorological point of view, Ida has a greater potential for destruction than Hurricane Katrina, which occurred 16 years earlier, argues meteorologist Félix Biron. First, Katrina was a Category 3 hurricane while Ida is a Category 4 hurricane.
The amount of precipitation is also likely to be higher. “At Ida, we’re talking about 250 to 450 millimeters of rain. We could drive up to 600 millimeters of rain on site, ”said Mr Biron. For comparison: During Hurricane Katrina, 380 millimeters of rain were registered.
Why did Hurricane Katrina cause so much damage? Floods, answers the meteorologist. Under the pressure of torrential rains, several levees had collapsed around the city and flooded 80% of New Orleans territory.
Brent Stubbs hopes the hurricane won’t be as devastating as Katrina. “I pray that the levees will hold. After Katrina’s death, the man lived in his house with water up to his neck for two weeks. Although flooding is still possible, dikes have been strengthened and drainage systems improved in recent years.
Hurricane Ida will continue on its way north and is expected to turn into a tropical depression as the day progresses. “It will go on to the northeastern states of the continent like New York. The impact will be much less, ”said Mr Biron. Between 75 and 100 millimeters of rain are expected on its way.
A state that is already on the alert
Hurricane Ida hits a region already on health alert: the Delta variant hit Louisiana hard, vaccinated little and brought the hospital system to its knees, with nearly 2,700 hospital patients and as many daily deaths as the peak of the pandemic. The storm therefore comes at “a very difficult time,” said Governor John Bel Edwards, “creating extreme difficulties for us as hospitals are so full of COVID-19 patients”. “Make sure you wear a mask and try to keep your distance,” Joe Biden, who declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, reminded residents who were forced to go to shelters.
France media agency
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, including New Orleans, with extremely violent winds. New Orleans is protected by a complex network of levees and canals that is 350 miles long to isolate it from the waters of the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain. Six dykes gave way under the pressure of torrential rain. Hundreds of residents found themselves trapped underwater. Almost 1,800 people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands had to leave their homes. The damage amounted to tens of billions of dollars. In some of the poorest neighborhoods, water has reached the roof and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes. About 80% of the city was flooded. The residents no longer had electricity, drinking water, communication networks or food. President George W. Bush acted slowly. Federal aid arrived five days later. The rebuilding of New Orleans is estimated at nearly $ 200 billion.
With Agence France-Presse