Hurricane Ida approaches southeast Louisiana on August 29, 2021, packing 150-mile-per-hour winds. (National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Ida roared across southeast Louisiana Sunday as a powerful category 4 hurricane, leaving the vast majority of New Orleans without electricity. Though now downgraded to a tropical storm, officials are warning Ida can still cause dangerous storm surge for coastal Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in addition to inland winds and heavy rain that could lead to additional flooding.

“Damaging winds, especially in gusts, will continue to spread inland near the track of Ida’s center affecting southwestern Mississippi through this morning and early afternoon,” National Hurricane Center forecasters warned Monday morning. “These winds will likely lead to widespread tree damage and power outages.”

The storm — packing near 150 mile per hour winds as it came ashore near Port Fourchon — left the vast majority of New Orleans, and much of the surrounding area without power Sunday evening. The city saw winds over 110 miles per hour. According to Entergy Louisiana and Entergy New Orleans more than 850,000 households are without power as of Monday morning. 

“We have now lost power. The plant that provides power to Entergy New Orleans was compromised,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a midnight press conference. “This is citywide.”

Officials are still assessing damage to the power grid, as well as the condition of local roads, and all citizens have been asked to continue to shelter in place as they evaluate city infrastructure. Eight transmission lines that feed the city’s power grid failed, including a tower that collapsed, The Advocate/Times-Picayune reported.

On Monday morning, New Orleans city officials asked that people who evacuated not return “until further notice” while damage assessments are underway.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Scott Walker also requested that parish residents wait to return.

Just west of the city, LaPlace received several inches of rain in Sunday’s evening hours and cries for help on social media grew throughout the evening as water rose, WWLTV reported. Jean Lafitte residents also saw rising waters from storm surge, WWNO reported.

On Sunday night, NOLA Public Schools announced schools would remain closed through Tuesday as officials assess potential damage to school buildings and await word on power restoration. Public schools in neighboring Jefferson Parish, St. Tammany Parish and St. Bernard Parish are closed through Tuesday, as well. 

The city is still reporting flooded intersections and closed underpasses through its online reporting system. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is also reporting some highway closures, including I-10 West near the Causeway where power lines are blocking the interstate. 

The Orleans Parish Communications District was also reporting problems with its 9-1-1 system Monday morning.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...