Hurricane Ida has battered the US state of Louisiana and plunged the city of New Orleans into darkness, killing at least one person.
Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast as a Category 4 hurricane but weakened into a tropical storm on Monday.
President Joe Biden described Ida as “life-threatening” and declared Louisiana a disaster area. The hurricane was compared with Katrina, which devastated Louisiana exactly 16 years ago to the day.
The storm is expected to continue weakening as it moves over land with a predicted track taking it north into the central United States before veering eastward, reaching the mid-Atlantic region by Wednesday.
Health officials in declared public health emergencies for Louisiana and Mississippi, seeking to suspend government red tape that may get in the way of providing help to people affected by Hurricane Ida.
The emergency declaration by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra puts a pause on certain payment rules and other requirements that could become an unwelcome distraction for hospitals and doctors trying to provide services under stressful conditions.
More than a million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi were without power, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide, increasing their vulnerability to flooding and leaving them without air conditioning and refrigeration.
Energy company Entergy said all eight crucial transmission lines into New Orleans were down and the only power was coming from generators, the city’s emergency office tweeted, citing “catastrophic transmission damage.” The city relies on Entergy for backup power for its stormwater pumps.
While Ida is sure to take a toll on the energy, chemical and shipping industries that have important hubs along the Gulf Coast, the effect on the overall US economy should be modest, economists have suggested.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the disruptions caused by Ida will likely lead him to downgrade his forecast for annual US economic growth in the July-September quarter by a few 10ths of a percentage point.