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Ida carves path of destruction across Louisiana, leaves low-lying towns stranded

Ida carves path of destruction across Louisiana, leaves low-lying towns stranded
August 31, 2021 Web Desk

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the US Gulf Coast, knocked out power to over 1 million homes in Louisiana and prompted rescue operations in flooded communities around New Orleans as the weakening storm churned northward.

Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, evoking memories of a disaster that killed more than 1,800 people in 2005 and devastated New Orleans.

By late Monday afternoon, after dumping a deluge of rain in Louisiana and killing at least two people, Ida was downgraded to a tropical depression as its eye crawled through neighboring Mississippi. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said more fatalities were expected in his state.

"We didn't have another Katrina and that is something that we should be grateful for. However, the impact is absolutely significant," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told a news conference.

City officials vowed to comb every neighborhood block by block to assess damage and aid the afflicted, seeking to reassure a majority Black city that felt abandoned by the US government after Katrina.

"No one will be left out," Cantrell said.

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the state, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) sent 3,600 of its personnel and 3.4 million meals to the storm-devastated area.

Climate change is fueling deadly and disastrous weather across the globe, including stronger and more damaging hurricanes.

The National Guard said it has dispatched thousands of personnel as well as vehicles that can navigate flooded roads, boats and 34 helicopters to rescue people stranded by flooding.

Local officials and "Cajun Navy" disaster relief volunteers sped to the small city of Houma, where volunteers searched for people who were reported trapped by floodwaters.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said he was coordinating a flotilla on Monday to rescue an estimated 400 people in Lafitte, a fishing community about 25 miles (40 km) south of New Orleans.

Another 40 people rode out the storm and appeared to be safe on the tiny barrier island of Grand Isle, just a few miles from where Ida made landfall at maximum strength on Sunday, Lopinto told WWL Radio.

A helicopter on a fly-over found people on Grand Isle flashing thumbs-up signs, Lopinto said.

Coast Guard aerial video showed widespread flooding on the island and significant roof damage to many homes.