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‘Ida made Katrina look like a warm summer breeze’

Residents were picking up the pieces in Louisiana on Tuesday (August 31) after Hurricane Ida left its mark across the state — with some bracing for life without electricity, and others weathering a storm that “made Katrina look like a warm summer breeze.”

Matt Koontz of Des Allemands, Louisiana told Reuters that the winds were so fierce that the storm picked up a building “like it was a napkin.”

Some residents coping with he aftermath were just grateful to have made it through the storm.

“We have food, we have water we are fine. You know we are still alive. We survived it,” resident Andy LaCost said.

Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, had weakened to a tropical depression by late Monday as it churned over Mississippi, where the system brought heavy rains overnight.

The storm, which deluged Louisiana with rain and killed at least two people in the state, caused widespread power outages across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and prompted rescue operations in flooded communities around New Orleans.

Ida is one of a series of powerful storms to pound the U.S. Gulf Coast in recent years. Climate change is fueling deadly and disastrous weather across the globe, including stronger and more damaging hurricanes.

On Tuesday, officials warned residents about the hidden dangers of flood waters that might bring wildlife closer to neighborhoods.

By early Tuesday, about 1.3 million customers remained without power, most of them in Louisiana, according to PowerOutage, which gathers data from U.S. utility companies.

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.

But a $14.5 billion system of levees, flood gates and pumps designed in the wake of Katrina’s devastation largely worked as designed during Ida, officials said, sparing New Orleans from the catastrophic flooding that devastated the area 16 years ago.

The state’s healthcare systems also appeared to have largely escaped catastrophic damage at a time when Louisiana is reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections that has strained hospitals.

(Production Hussein Waaile, Aleksandra Michalska, Deborah Lutterbeck)


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