With nearly 1.1 million people across Louisiana and Mississippi still without power, communities across the U.S. Gulf Coast are grappling with the arduous task of post-hurricane cleanup with no clear timeline for electricity restoration.
By Tuesday morning, four deaths in two states had been attributed to Hurricane Ida, and a fifth man is presumed dead following a suspected alligator attack in the floodwaters outside his Louisiana home.
Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm just before 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, packing 150 mph winds that tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the mainland U.S. Its arrival came 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina was blamed for at least 1,800 deaths, levee breaches, catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and widespread destruction along Mississippi’s gulf coast.
According to NOLA.com, the “just-completed” $14.5 billion system of levees, flood walls, pumps and gates built after Katrina did its job, minimizing storm surge and flooding.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told the news outlet that officials have not identified any levee failures associated with Ida, but he did confirm that some smaller levees in southeastern Louisiana that are not part of the federal system were overtopped, allowing water to inundate some homes.
By contrast, Edwards’ office described damage to the power grid as “catastrophic,” and power officials confirmed that some areas will remain without electricity for weeks.
Specifically, Ida toppled a giant tower that carries key transmission lines over the Mississippi River to the New Orleans area, knocking out more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines along with 216 substations, power company Entergy confirmed.
Meanwhile, Ida knocked out 18 water systems - affecting more than 312,000 people - and boil-water advisories have been issued for another 14 systems serving some 329,000 people, Edwards’ office confirmed.
The confirmed storm-related fatalities include an Ascension Parish man killed Sunday when a tree fell on his house, a man who drowned in New Orleans after he attempted to navigate floodwaters in his vehicle and two people killed overnight Monday when part of a Mississippi highway collapsed.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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