Louisiana on Monday braced for daylight to reveal the extent of destruction caused by Hurricane Ida.
Ida’s eye came ashore late Sunday morning near Port Fourchon, La., with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles an hour, just shy of the 157 m.p.h. winds of a Category 5 storm. By early Monday morning, the hurricane had weakened to a tropical storm.
As it moved through the state, Ida brought heavy rains, flooding and “catastrophic transmission damage” to the electrical system, leaving much of the city of New Orleans and over a million people throughout the state without power.
The center of Ida was expected to move farther inland over southeastern Louisiana early Monday and then move into southwestern Mississippi, weakening as it sweeps northward throughout the day and during the evening hours. It will move into the Tennessee Valley on Tuesday.
As of Monday morning, the hurricane led to at least one death in Prairieville, La., about 30 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, where a person died after a tree fell on a home, according to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Some of the damage was seen before sunset on Sunday, with reports of roofs being ripped off homes in Grand Isle, La., a coastal town on a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico near where the storm’s center came ashore, according to Kevin Gilmore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation said on Twitter that fallen trees, downed power lines and other debris made many roads in south Louisiana “impassable.”
Ida also caused 22 barges near Chamlettte, east of New Orleans, to break loose and float down stream on the Mississippi River, according to St. Bernard Parish officials.
John Lane, the parish’s executive director of coastal operations, said officials did not believe the levees in the area were at risk, but there was concern about effects on essential infrastructure such as the parish’s water intake system and oil refineries.
The Coast Guard was expected to deploy and corral the barges as soon as weather allowed, Mr. Lane said.
While the levee system protecting New Orleans appeared to hold, a 10-foot high surge topped one levee southeast of the city in Plaquemines Parish. The levee is outside the federal storm risk reduction system, in an area where the National Hurricane Center had cautioned that overtopping of local levees was possible.
The heavy rains and tidal surge from Hurricane Ida prompted a flash flood emergency Sunday night in areas south of New Orleans, as a failed levee in the town of Jean Lafitte left up to 200 people in “imminent danger,” the National Weather Service said.
Mayor Tim Kerner Jr. said rescue boats were mobilizing but would not be able to deploy until daybreak. “If you’re in an attic, you’re on a roof, rest assured you’re going to be all right,” he said on WDSU television. “Once you see that wind starting to die down, look on the horizon, because we’re coming.”
The Weather Service issued the flash flood warning just before midnight Eastern time for the town of Jean Lafitte, about 22 miles south of New Orleans, and surrounding areas.
“This is a life threatening situation,” the Weather Service said on Twitter. “Seek higher ground now.”
More than 3,000 people were under the flash flood emergency, which was in effect until 7:45 a.m. Eastern time on Monday.
The Weather Service in New Orleans said it had received reports from local officials that a levee had failed around Jean Lafitte and nearby Lafitte, adding that more than 200 people were in “imminent danger.” It was not clear if the levee was being overtopped or had been breached.
Earlier in the night, the Weather Service also said it had received several reports of significant flooding in Laplace, La, about 30 miles northwest of New Orleans, adding that the eastern wall of the hurricane was hitting the area at the time.
“Take whatever means are necessary to protect your life,” the Weather Service said.
Across Twitter, several people were asking for help on Sunday night, sharing their address and asking to be rescued themselves or seeking help for others in need of rescue.
In an interview with WDSU, Ricky Templet, a council member in Jefferson Parish, said that a new levee in town had been designed for a tidal surge of up to seven feet.
“Apparently the surge has exceeded that,” he said. “The water is rapidly rising with these winds still coming out of the South. The water is still pushing up into the bayou areas and rising rapidly.”
Mr. Templet said a lot of new homes in town had been raised, from 11 feet to some as high as 15 feet. “I’m not sure if any of those homes that have been raised are being threatened. Their yards and the surrounding area would be.”
The area has been under mandatory evacuation.
As Hurricane Ida moves farther inland in the coming days, it is expected to lose strength, but continue to pose a danger to many parts of the Southeast, the National Hurricane Center said.
On Monday, Ida will likely bring heavy rainfall, and possibly severe flooding, to Louisiana, the southern parts of Mississippi and coastal communities in Alabama. The rainfall totals could reach as much as 24 inches in some parts of southeast Louisiana.
Coastal Alabama and the western parts of Florida could see five to 10 inches of rain through Tuesday morning, and in central Mississippi, up to a foot of rain, starting on Sunday.
Tornadoes are also possible on Monday in southeast Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, southwest Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.
The storm is expected to turn northeast on Monday, tracking across the Middle Tennessee Valley, including Humphreys County, where 20 people were killed this month as flash floods tore through communities there. The area could see up to six inches of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Hurricane Center said.
The National Weather Service in Nashville issued a flood watch for most of Middle Tennessee starting on Monday night.
By Wednesday, the storm will move through the Upper Ohio Valley, dropping as much as six inches of rain.
The rainfall totals for all of these areas could result in flash flooding, the Hurricane Center said.
As they braced for the arrival of Hurricane Ida, oil and gas companies shut down more than 95 percent of their production in the Gulf of Mexico, making this storm the first of the year to significantly disrupt those industries.
Workers were evacuated from nearly half of the area’s staffed production platforms and from all 11 rigs in the Gulf, federal officials said on Saturday. BP, Chevron, Phillips and Shell were among the companies that closed facilities. Oil prices were likely to rise when trading resumed on Sunday night, analysts predicted.
The disruption could have an effect on gasoline prices ahead of Labor Day, traditionally one of the year’s high-demand peaks.
“It’s a little speculative to say yet what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be an event,” said Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service. “This could lead to a mini-price spike.”
On Sunday, Colonial Pipeline, which carries refined gasoline and jet fuel from Texas up the East Coast to New York, said it was temporarily halting fuel deliveries from Houston to Greensboro, N.C., Reuters reported. The company, which pre-emptively shut down its pipeline in May after a ransomware attack, said in a note to shippers that fuel would be available at its terminals throughout the Southeast, and that it would resume full service when it is safe to do so.