Category 4 Hurricane Ida has left more than a million people, including most residents of New Orleans, without electricity, more than 300 000 without water and some 2000 in shelters, according to official figures. At least three people have died in the catastrophic storm that came ashore on Sunday 29 August.
New Orleans itself was spared major flooding, thanks in part to the $14.5 billion flood protection system built around the city after Hurricane Katrina.
President Biden has promised people in Louisiana and Mississippi that his administration would be there to help them recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Ida “for as long as it takes.” More than 5000 National Guard troops have been deployed to help with the search-and-rescue efforts.
Entergy said it would assess the damage on Monday, 30 August to try and determine how long power will be out in metropolitan New Orleans. But it will likely take days to assess the extent of damage to the power grid and far longer to restore electrical transmission to the region, according to company executives on Monday morning 30 August.
Several towns and districts of southeast Louisiana, including New Orleans, had their main source of power cut when eight Entergy transmission lines, including a major line in Harahan, failed in Hurricane Ida's intense winds, including a tower that fell into the Mississippi River at Avondale.
But so far exactly what caused the transmission lines to shut down after Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon is unclear, as 120 mph winds have prevented crews from conducting a damage assessment. It was hoped to start the investigation in earnest last Monday, 30 August.
It will take days just for utility crews to determine the extent of the storm damage to the New Orleans power grid, and far longer to restore power to the region, officials of Entergy Louisiana said on Monday. Transmission lines as well as local supply lines will have to be repaired.
As of 7 am on Monday, Entergy stated that there were more than 888 000 power outages in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida crashed through much of the state on Sunday evening, snapping cables, damaging buildings, uprooting trees and spreading debris along roads.
On Monday morning, 216 substations, 207 transmission lines, and more than 2000 miles of transmission lines were out of service, and the company also reported more than 45 000 outages in Mississippi.
When the eight transmission lines that deliver power to New Orleans went out of service, the load imbalance tripped all power generation in the region. The city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said that the only power in the city was coming from customers’ own generators.