The first very tangible consequence of Ida’s gusts: more than a million homes were still without electricity on Monday evening, according to the specialized site PowerOutage. US.
Thousands of rescuers
“The damage is really catastrophic”, lamented Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to the channel NBC. At least two people were killed, the first by a fall from a tree in the market town of Prairieville and the second while trying to cross a flooded road in New Orleans.
Supported by the National Guard, the US Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has dispatched more than 5,200 people to help the victims, the Pentagon has assured.
The National Guard was deployed to Jean Lafitte, Louisiana on August 30, 2021. © DAN ANDERSON / EPA / MAXPPP
Federal assistance will continue “As long as it takes”, said President Joe Biden during a meeting with FEMA officials as well as the governors and mayors of affected communities.
Relatively untouched New Orleans
In the city of LaPlace, west of New Orleans that Ida hit hard, members of the National Guard got down to saving residents trapped in the waters all day long, helped by several helicopters, trucks and boats.
“We were about fifteen in a hotel” on the night of the hurricane, says Jonathan Guity, 30, with a baby in his arms, who has just been rescued by a helicopter.
“There was a lot of wind and when we wanted to leave the hotel the next day, there was too much water”, at least two meters he continues.
The damage was more limited in the historic center of New Orleans, Louisiana’s largest city, where some took to the streets, defying the authorities’ orders to stay at home, facing the risk of flash floods, or electrocution.
Craig Anderson, 67, inspected his red car on Monday, the windshield of which was damaged by a falling large tile. “I’m lucky, I was not inside (the vehicle)”.
The painful memory of Katrina
Destroyed gas stations, overturned trucks, submerged houses and roads: so many scenes of desolation that have become sadly redundant, in this southern state of the United States, where one hurricane often drives another.
But as the surface of the oceans warms, storms are getting more powerful, scientists warn. In particular, they pose an increasing risk to coastal communities.
And everyone still has in mind the painful memory of Katrina, a hurricane that made landfall on August 29, 2005, in Louisiana, 16 years to the day before Ida’s arrival. More than 1,800 people had died and the damage had run into billions of dollars.
“I was there 16 years ago for Katrina, the wind seemed worse this time”, says Dereck Terry, 53. “But the damage is less important, I have the impression”, judge the man in the Superman t-shirt, umbrella in hand.
Insurance companies estimate that Hurricane Ida caused $ 15-20 million in damage, according to preliminary estimates.
Downgraded to a tropical depression Monday night, Ida was now speeding over the Mississippi, one of the poorest states in the United States, threatened with flooding.