All of New Orleans is without power amid the ongoing assault by Hurricane Ida, the local energy company said Sunday night.
Entergy Louisiana told The Times-Picayune that Ida had already caused “catastrophic transmission damage” affecting the entire city, in part due to a massive failure of an electricity transmission tower that collapsed into the Mississippi River during the brunt of the storm. The publication reported it could be days or weeks before parts of the city have power restored, threatening residents as a sweltering summer continues.
The only power in New Orleans is now coming from generators, and about a million people are without electricity across the state.
“Hurricane Ida’s intensity has caused catastrophic damage in its path, including a load imbalance to the company’s transmission and generation,” Entergy Louisiana wrote on Twitter. “We’re making every effort to learn more and rectify.”
Ida hit the Louisiana coastline as a Category 4 behemoth, lashing the state with 150-mph winds, tying as the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the mainland U.S. It weakened to a Category 3 storm as it closed in on New Orleans, but the sheer size of Ida threatened the massive levee system that has been rebuilt and strengthened around the iconic city.
By early Monday morning Ida had diminished to a Category 1 storm, but the National Hurricane Center warned fierce winds could still cause life-threatening conditions. Flash flood emergencies were issued south of New Orleans amid a failed levee, and thousands of people were under such orders until early Monday morning.
“Take whatever means are necessary to protect your life,” the National Weather Service told Louisianans.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to remain at home, saying late Sunday conditions were still severe despite the storm weakening as it moved inland. It was too dangerous to be on the roads amid a citywide blackout, she added.
“This is time to continue to remain in your safe places, not a time to venture out into our city at all,” Cantrell said. “It’s unsafe.”
At least one person has died in Louisiana. Authorities said a man was killed when a tree fell on his home in Ascension Parish, south of Baton Rouge.
The National Weather Service’s New Orleans office said later Sunday that it expected strong winds and heavy rain throughout the night, urging residents to remain sheltered in place.
“This is going to be much stronger than we usually see and, quite frankly, if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) told The Associated Press.
Earlier Sunday, the governor warned residents that: “Nobody should be expecting that, tonight, a first responder is going to be able to answer a call for help.”
The city’s Sewerage and Water Board, which operates a vast network of pumps and drainage systems, said it, too, had lost all power from Entergy, complicating efforts to remove the city’s sewage and stormwater.
“The Entergy loss of power is a significant loss of power for our 60 hz pumps and the 25 [herz] pumps we power through the frequency changers, but we are using our self-generated sources of power to drain stormwater and pump drinking water into the city,” the SWB said on Twitter. “In order to prevent sewage backups, we have asked residents to limit water usage at home, thus decreasing the amount of wastewater we must remove.”