Bourbon Street in New Orleans' French Quarter is empty as visitors and residents hunker down for Hurricane Ida on Sunday. Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Hundreds of thousands of people across Louisiana are without power and at least one person is dead after Hurricane Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, authorities said.
The eye made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana near Port Fourchon with winds of 150, tying Hurricane Laura in 2020 as the strongest in modern era to hit the state.
Ida made a second landfall southwest of Galliano, La., with winds of 145 mph a couple hours later.
The first death attributed to Ida was announced late Sunday by the sheriff's office for Ascension Parish, located just south of Baton Rouge, one of the hardest-hit regions by the storm.
Deputies received reports of a person being possibly injured by a tree that had fallen on a house, and arrived to find the occupant dead, the sheriff's office said on its Facebook page. The Louisiana Department of Health said the victim was a 60-year-old man.
The National Weather Service on Sunday evening warned residents in the Braithwaite area to seek higher ground immediately, after the government of the Plaquemines Parish said it had received reports that a levee near the Parish line and Wit Ditch could overflow.
The Sewage and Water Board of New Orleans said Sunday several sewage pump stations on the East and West Banks of New Orleans currently experiencing power outages.
According to Poweroutage.us, nearly 1 million of the 2,24,195 customers in Louisiana were without power. That includes all of Orleans Parish, which is the city of New Orleans, New Orleans' emergency preparedness campaign.
"The only power in the city is coming from generators," NOLA Ready posted on Twitter.
Entergy, which services 3 million residents in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, warned some could experience power outages for weeks.
"While 90% of customers will be restored sooner, customers in the hardest-hit area should plan for the possibility of experiencing extended power outages," it said in a statement. "Significant damage, flooding and accessibility challenges due to the storm will affect our ability to reach some areas of our territory right away and could delay restoration in those communities."
Mississippi's outages hit 36,261.
Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer said wind gust reports reached 148 mph in Grand Isle before the anemometer, a tool to measure wind speeds, broke.
"It's very likely that those winds are probably pushing 200 mph in gusts," Timmer said
Only two previous hurricanes in recorded history have ever hit Louisiana with sustained winds of 150 mph: the hurricane that hit Last Island in 1856 and Hurricane Laura, which hammered Louisiana last year, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach. Record-keeping began in 1851.
Heavy rain from Hurricane Ida began across the southeastern Louisiana coast on Sunday morning.
"Residents and interests from Louisiana through Alabama should be prepared for prolonged power outages, a devastating storm surge on the eastern side of the storm, destructive winds and flying debris and major, life-threatening flooding," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said.
Storm surge and strong winds reversed the flow of the Mississippi River near New Orleans, which is something the United States Geological Survey said is "extremely uncommon."
Satellite images from Sunday morning showed numerous lightning strikes erupting within Hurricane Ida's cloud structure.
St. Tammany Parish, which is north of New Orleans, issued an executive order declaring a curfew, effective at noon. St. John the Baptist Parish, which is west of New Orleans, has a curfew for Sunday night.
The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency.
President Joe Biden has approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi.
"As soon as the storm passes we're going to put the country's full might behind the rescue and recovery," Biden said.
Travelers are stranded at the New Orleans International Airport early Sunday morning after all flights in and out were canceled due to Ida's approach. Marguerite Alexander of Philadelphia told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell that her original flight and rebooked flight were both canceled, and she has had no luck booking a hotel or a rental car.
Roads out of town, including on Interstate 10, were packed with traffic from those trying to evacuate. Baton Rouge Airport also canceled flights.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Sunday it has deployed more than 2,400 personnel to several states.
"FEMA is working with its federal, state and local partners as well as non-governmental agencies to support needs of areas affected by Ida," FEMA said in a statement. "The agency positioned supplies such as meals, water, and generators to assist states with impacts from this storm."
FEMA said 2.5 million meals and 3.1 million liters of water were ready for distribution.
The storm heavily impacted oil production and transmission.
Colonial Pipeline is temporarily shutting down two fuel lines between Houston and Greensboro, N.C. The 5,500-mile pipeline provides nearly half the gasoline and diesel consumed by the East Coast.
More than 95% of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production has been halted, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Almost exactly one year ago, the deadly Hurricane Laura slammed into the city at Category 4 strength. Twelve months later, residents and state officials are still pleading for federal aid, having made requests for $3 billion in federal recovery aid that have gone unfulfilled.
Another harsh reality for the state is the status of COVID-19 transmission. With over 140,000 new cases recorded in the past four weeks, Louisiana has had the fifth-most infections in the United States.