LAFOURCHE PARISH, La. (AP) — Video recorded in Lafourche Parish, west of New Orleans, showed downed trees, snapped utility poles and homes with roofs blown off after Hurricane Ida moved through.
The Category 4 storm hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier, coming ashore about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of where Category 3 Katrina first struck land.
Ida’s 150-mph (230 kph) winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the mainland U.S. It dropped hours later to a Category 3 storm with maximum winds of 120 mph (193 kph) as it crawled inland, its eye 25 miles (40 kilometers) west-southwest of New Orleans.
The rising ocean swamped the barrier island of Grand Isle as landfall came just to the west at Port Fourchon.
Ida made a second landfall about two hours later near Galliano.
The hurricane was churning through the far southern Louisiana wetlands, with the more than 2 million people living in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge under threat.
People in Louisiana woke up to a monster storm after Ida’s top winds grew by 45 mph (72 kph) in five hours as the hurricane moved through some of the warmest ocean water in the world in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Wind tore at awnings, water spilled out of Lake Ponchartrain in New Orleans, and boats broke loose from their moorings.
The Coast Guard office in New Orleans received more than a dozen reports of breakaway barges, said Petty Officer Gabriel Wisdom. In Lafitte about 35 miles (56 km) south of New Orleans, a loose barge struck a bridge, according to Jefferson Parish officials.
Elsewhere, engineers detected a “negative flow” on the Mississippi River as a result of storm surge, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Ricky Boyette said.
Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a few thunderstorms to a massive hurricane in just three days left no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans’ 390,000 residents. Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents remaining in the city on Sunday to “hunker down.”
The hurricane was also threatening neighboring Mississippi, where Katrina demolished oceanfront homes. With Ida approaching, Claudette Jones evacuated her home east of Gulfport, Mississippi, as waves started pounding the shore.
At least 619,000 customers were already without power Sunday after nightfall, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.
President Joe Biden approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of Ida’s arrival. He said Sunday the country was praying for the best for Louisiana and would put its “full might behind the rescue and recovery” effort once the storm passes.