Ida pummels Louisiana

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Aditi Sangal, Judson Jones, Jack Guy, Kathryn Snowdon, and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 9:00 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021
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10:50 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

More than 5,000 National Guard personnel activated to help in hurricane recovery efforts, Pentagon says

Thousands of National Guard personnel are going to the Gulf Coast to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor, vice director for logistics of the Joint Staff, said on Monday.

Taylor said in coordination with the National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), about 5,200 people will be activated in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.

"They bring a variety of assets including high water vehicles, rotary lift and other transportation capability to support recovery efforts," Taylor said.

Additionally, Taylor said the US Army Corp of Engineers is operational in New Orleans and is "assessing the storm's impact."

The Department of Defense also "stands ready" to assist as requested by FEMA, Taylor said.

10:36 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Louisiana governor says he "fully expects the death count will go up considerably throughout the day"

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday that as search and rescue efforts get underway in the wake of Hurricane Ida, he “fully expects the death count will go up considerably throughout the day.”

“I don’t want to mislead anyone. Robust search and rescue is happening right now and I fully expect that that death count will go up considerably throughout the day,” Edwards told MSNBC Monday.

Over 900 search and rescue personnel from 16 different states, plus the Louisiana National Guard, are on the ground assisting with the effort, which began around 3:00 a.m. this morning, Edwards said.

The governor said the storm made landfall “very much as advertised” and brought catastrophic wind and rain.

The amount of surge and rain Ida pushed into the state caused severe flooding, Edwards said. The governor said there are people still sheltering on the second floor of their homes and in attics.

Edwards said the amount of debris and standing water is making it difficult for first responders to access the hardest hit areas.

He said almost all of southeast Louisiana is without power and that all eight major transmission lines that feed electricity into the greater New Orleans area have failed.

“We are waiting for an update from Entergy and the Public Service Commission. I know that they are looking very hard to figure out how to power up as much as possible, focusing on the most critical infrastructure and that’s our hospitals,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the levee system “performed extremely well.”

“If we had to deal with a failed levee system this morning, it would be completely unimaginable and thank goodness that is not what we are dealing with today,” he said.

 

10:30 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Rain band from Ida moving through southeast Louisiana, including Grand Isle

From CNN's Brandon Miller

A trailing outer band from Tropical Storm Ida is bringing some locally heavy rain and gusty winds to portions of southeastern Louisiana, including in the hard-hit location of Grand Isle.

This could lead to some additional localized flooding, winds of 30 mph or more, and lightning.

These storms will continue on and off into the afternoon and could complicate relief efforts in the region.

10:33 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Crews assessing failed levee, but most people are out of the area, parish president says

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Officials in Plaquemines Parish say a levee that failed as Hurricane Ida hit on Sunday has been sealed, but crews continue to work on it today and assess how badly it was damaged.

Kirk Lepine, the president of the parish, said they are dropping more sandbags and using boats, a helicopter and drones to get a better picture of the condition it is in.

Lepine said they have not received any 911 calls from people still in the area. He said the area where the water is is "pretty desolate," adding they are "pretty confident there is not a lot of people there."

Many people followed evacuation orders and left the area, he said.

"This is the time that we try to find out and make an assessment of how bad it really is," Lepine said.

A Monday post on the Plaquemines Parish Facebook page said, “Storm surge in the Myrtle Grove area reached Highway 23 last night (as expected) and moved in a northerly direction.” Highway 23 is where the levee is located. 

Crews made a temporary levee system using Hesco barriers, which PPSO described as bags. 

“Last night the storm surge breached the temporary Hesco barrier causing the surge to continue north. The temporary Hesco barrier has been repaired and we are currently assessing the situation to assure there wasn't any breach to the permanent levee system,” the sheriff’s office said. 

“At this point, we are still monitoring the situation, but it appears the surge stopped just north of the Alliance Refinery near the Cypresswood Inn,” the post says. 

10:44 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Life-threatening flash flooding occurring across southeastern Louisiana

From CNN's Monica Garrett

(CNN)
(CNN)

There are four flash flood emergencies in place for portions of southeastern Louisiana through late morning.

Flash flooding is already occurring and continues in these warned areas.

Emergency management reported flash flooding in Laplace in the 7 a.m. CDT hour (8 a.m. ET). Between 8 and 16 inches of rain have fallen there. Local law enforcement has also reported flash flooding in Lafitte and Jean Lafitte.

Heavy rain has ended in the area of Hammond, Tickfaw, and Ponchatoula. However, stream gauge reports continue to show rapid rises on area streams and flash flooding will continue for several more hours. Between 10 and 18 inches of rain have fallen there.

The flash flood emergency for Alliance continues due to the levee failure near highway 23.

The National Weather Service in New Orleans warns these are extremely dangerous and life-threatening situations. “Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order," they warned.

10:20 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Rescue non-profit says they've conducted roughly 150 rescues in Louisiana

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy 

Matthew Marchetti, the spokesperson for Crowdsource Rescue, tells CNN that they have rescued around 150 people — out of the 1,000 reports they received — in Louisiana. 

Crowdsource Rescue is a Houston-based non-profit and was created during Hurricane Harvey.

They currently have three teams operating in LaPlace, Louisiana. They are currently en route to Lafitte, Louisiana, in hopes of assisting rescue efforts there.

"Lafitte is a bit of a technical challenge," Marchetti tells CNN. "Long boat ride because of road issues."

11:38 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Over 1 million are still without power in Louisiana. Here's what to keep in mind to safely use generators.

From CNN's Maggie Fox

More than 1 million customers in Louisiana were without power as of early Monday morning, according to PowerOutage.US. Officials say those who have electricity are getting it from generators, but it is important to use them safely to avoid carbon monoxide deaths.

Carbon monoxide is a gas that has no odor, color or taste. You wouldn’t be able to see or smell it, but it can be very dangerous to your health and even fatal.

If there is too much carbon monoxide in the air you are breathing, your ability to absorb oxygen can be diminished, resulting in serious tissue damage, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Generators and other gasoline powered equipment are common sources of carbon monoxide.

What to watch for: The initial symptoms are flu-like, but without a fever. They may include dull headache, weakness, dizziness and nausea. High-level poisoning can result in vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness.

How to stay safe: "These devices should never be used inside an enclosed space, home, basement, garage, or camper — or even outside near an open window or window air conditioner," the CDC said.

If patients show such symptoms after a hurricane or another disaster, health care professionals should consider carbon monoxide poisoning, the CDC said. "Administer 100% oxygen until the patient is symptom-free or until a diagnosis of CO poisoning has been ruled out," the CDC said.

Here are some more tips from the National Weather Service:

9:56 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Louisiana State Troopers urge residents to stay home as they assess roads and bridges

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Louisiana State Troopers spokesperson Lt. Melissa Matey tells CNN that residents need to stay home while they work to clear roads across the state.

Matey says that troopers are seeing a lot of trees and power lines down across roads. They've also seen a number of damaged roofs and vehicles, in addition to received reports of flooded homes.

They, like many across Louisiana, are having trouble with communication because of downed power lines and communication towers being knocked offline. 

"We’re asking everyone to stay in place right now," Matey told CNN.
9:46 a.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Here's what it's like to cover a Category 4 Hurricane from the eye of the storm

From CNN's Derek Van Dam, Kay Jones and Alta Spells

What does it feel like to be in the eye of Category 4 hurricane? Hours and hours of relentless wind is how CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam described it.

Hurricane Ida hit the shores of Louisiana as a strong Category 4 hurricane early Sunday afternoon. A few short hours later, Van Dam, his Producer Kay Jones and Photojournalist Jonathan Schaer, found themselves in the eye of the storm as it slowly moved over their location in Houma, Louisiana. 

"The eye wall, the strongest part of the storm went directly over us," said Van Dam during a live CNN report. "It was a nightmare, it unfolded in front of our eyes. It was a relentless, never-ending fury of category 4 hurricane winds." 

The extreme winds beat down on the team's location for hours.

"It was like taking winds from an EF3 tornado, 136 to 150 mph, over a large area for a long time," said Van Dam. 

The eye of the storm is normally thought of as a calmness in the midst of the storm, but that wasn't the case this time, this crew didn't get that small bit of respite. 

Jones, a seasoned CNN producer who has covered many hurricanes for the network, said "by far, this is the strongest storm I've ever covered or been in."

Jones hunkered down in her hotel – a heavily reinforced concrete structure that was built post-Hurricane Katrina and selected for its ability to withstand a powerful storm – but could still feel the building moving. 

"My room was on the 3rd floor," said Jones, "it was shaking off and on for hours." 

While the shaking did eventually stop, the forceful winds continued until around 10 p.m. CT. 

In addition to the wind, there was also a lot of rain associated with the storm, but luckily for the team their wind-battered hotel escaped much of the flooding experienced in other parts of the state. 

By 2 a.m. CT, the storm had cleared Houma leaving toppled trees and debris in its path. Despite having no electricity, the CNN team was back at it, live on the air relaying their harrowing experience inside the storm along with reports of damage all around them for the world to see.