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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1:57 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

None of the levee systems in Louisiana failed during the hurricane, governor says

None of Louisiana's levees failed during Hurricane Ida, Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Monday, calling it "good news."

He said specifically the federal levee systems and hurricane risk reduction systems performed "magnificently."

"They were not overtopped. None of them were breached. Even our levee systems that were paid for with state and local funding performed extremely, extremely well," Edwards said.

The governor said the situation in the state would have been much worse if any of those levee systems failed, "having said that, the damage is still catastrophic," he said.

He said the damage from the storm was primarily caused by high winds and some areas saw a lot of rain as well.

"We're going to be dealing with this damage for quite a while and you mentioned the power outage. That is critical for us," Edwards said. Millions of people in Louisiana are still without power.

1:53 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

NOW: Biden meets with FEMA administrator and state officials on Hurricane Ida relief efforts

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Kate Sullivan

(Pool)
(Pool)

President Biden is speaking on Hurricane Ida relief efforts as he meets virtually with a host of leaders involved in the response to the massive storm that has rocked the Gulf Coast.

Biden will meet with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and governors and mayors from states and cities affected by Ida after the storm made landfall on Sunday in Louisiana and caused catastrophic damage.

A White House official told CNN that Biden would speak on the relief efforts this afternoon.

Where things stand now: At least one person is dead and nearly half of the state is without power, including the entire city of New Orleans. State officials have begun search and rescue efforts. Ida has since weakened to a tropical storm, but life-threatening flash flooding has drawn on into Monday.

1:43 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Aerial video shows widespread destruction in Grand Isle, Louisiana 

The US Coast Guard took video from a flight showing widespread destruction in Grand Isle, Louisiana, following Hurricane Ida.

Here's a look at the damage:

1:39 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

New Orleans International Airport doing "damage assessment" and expects all flights to be canceled today 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport “is currently conducting a thorough damage assessment,” after Hurricane Ida ripped through the area Sunday.

“MSY is currently conducting a thorough damage assessment. We expect all flights to be cancelled today, but recommend that passengers check directly with their airlines for the most accurate flight info. More details to be provided when they become available," the airport said in a tweet Monday.

Over the weekend, CNN reported that the airport anticipated airlines to cancel flights due to Ida.

1:31 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

More than 25,000 workers mobilized for power restoration efforts across Louisiana

From CNN’s Kay Jones

More than 25,000 workers from at least 32 states and the District of Columbia have been mobilized to support power restoration efforts across Louisiana, The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) said in a statement Monday. 

EEI is an association that represents all investor-owned electric and provides electricity for more than 220 million customers across the United States. 

The workers “will be following additional safety protocols required by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to keep customers and crews safe. When you see crews working to restore power, please keep them safe and healthy by practicing social distancing,” they say.

More than a million people across the state of Louisiana are still without power, poweroutage.us reports. including the entire city of New Orleans.

 

1:38 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

At least 9 Louisiana refineries sidelined by Hurricane Ida, Department of Energy estimates 

From CNN's Matt Egan

Shell's Norco refinery is seen during a power outage caused by Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, Louisiana, in the early hours of August 30.
Shell's Norco refinery is seen during a power outage caused by Hurricane Ida in LaPlace, Louisiana, in the early hours of August 30. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

At least nine Louisiana refineries have shut down or reduced their operations because of Hurricane Ida, and the oil-and-gas industry is assessing the damage from the storm.

As of Monday morning, the Energy Department estimates that at least nine refineries in Louisiana have reduced production or shut operations, taking offline about 2.3 million barrels per day of US refinery capacity, or approximately 13% of the nation’s total.

That is unchanged from the agency’s estimates Sunday afternoon.

ExxonMobil said Monday its Baton Rouge refinery did not suffer significant damage from the hurricane. However, Exxon is shutting units at the facility until it regains access to utilities and feedstocks.

Shell said Monday it is still assessing the impact of Hurricane Ida and can’t confirm when operations will be fully resumed. Shell began shutting down its Geismar chemical plant and Norco refining and chemicals facility in Louisiana on Friday.

Marathon Petroleum said Monday it is currently assessing a timeline to safely resume operations at its Garyville, Louisiana, refinery. The facility was shut down before Hurricane Ida arrived.

The Energy Department said the refinery and offshore production outages are not expected to cause any “immediate” supply problems. That’s because Gulf Coast stockpiles of gasoline and distillate (which includes heating oil and diesel) are slightly above seasonal averages.

However, the agency noted that there are likely to be “limited temporary localized” gas station disruptions because of higher demand caused by people evacuating the region.

Gasoline futures rose nearly 2% to $2.32 a gallon on Monday morning. When trading opened Sunday evening, gasoline futures soared more than 3% to the highest levels since October 2014. 

The key will be how much wind and flooding damage Hurricane Ida inflicted on America’s energy infrastructure – and when systems can get back online.

Analysts are more worried about the status of decades-old refineries in the path of Hurricane Ida than offshore production platforms, which typically resume operations within days of a storm.

“A lot of these refineries were built 50 years ago – when concern about hurricanes was much lower,” said Pavel Molchanov, energy analyst at Raymond James. “Companies along the coast need to become more resilient because climate change is making hurricanes more frequent and more severe.”

1:40 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Biden poised to speak on Hurricane Ida relief efforts later today

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Kate Sullivan

President Biden is set to speak later this afternoon on Hurricane Ida relief efforts as he meets virtually with a host of leaders involved in the response to the massive storm that has rocked the Gulf Coast.

Biden will meet with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell and governors and mayors from states and cities affected by Ida after the storm made landfall on Sunday in Louisiana and caused catastrophic damage.

The White House said the President would be receiving regular briefings throughout the day from his homeland security team on the effects of the hurricane. 

Ida made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It has tied with 2020's Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856 as the strongest on record to hit the state. 

Biden has approved the state of Louisiana's request for a major federal disaster declaration and the state of Mississippi's request for an emergency declaration. These declarations allow federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Ida. 

The President visited FEMA's headquarters in Washington on Sunday to receive a briefing on the storm. He warned the hurricane was a "life-threatening storm" and said "its devastation is likely to be immense."

"As soon as the storm passes, we're going to put this – we're going to put the country's full might behind the rescue recovery, and I mean that," Biden added.

The President said he had been in touch with the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and that his team had been in touch with other state, local and federal officials in the region. 

Biden said equipment and response teams had been positioned in the region, including 2.5 million meals, 3 million liters of water and generators. He said more than 100 ambulances and emergency medical teams had been activated and that his administration had been working with local partners to open "dozens and dozens" of shelters.

1:22 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

More than 1 million people still without power across Louisiana 

More than 80% of Entergy’s 1.1 million customers across Louisiana are without power, the energy company said in a statement Monday morning.

“At 7 a.m., we had 888,229 power outages in Louisiana due to Ida’s destruction. Power outages continue to increase today as the storm moves through Mississippi,” the company said.

In total, more than a million people across the state of Louisiana are still without power, poweroutage.us reports.

As of 12:56 p.m. ET, at least 1,042,908 customers were without power, a small drop from 1,045,000 earlier in the hour.

The site aggregates live power outage data from across the US and tracks more than two million customers across Louisiana.

1:12 p.m. ET, August 30, 2021

Volunteer rescuer uses canoe to help flood-trapped people in Louisiana

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Paul Middendorf, a volunteer with Crowdsource Rescue, has spent hours rescuing people in his canoe after driving through the storm to LaPlace, Louisiana.

Middendorf said he spent the night in a parking garage in Baton Rouge when he got the call. After the storm had died down enough to drive the Crowdsource Rescue team said it had reports pouring in of people in LaPlace in dire need of rescue.

He got on I-10, and was able to make it to LaPlace despite the major thoroughfare being littered with downed trees and power lines.

Middendorf says he was supposed to meet up with others, but when he arrived in LaPlace cell service was out. He drove as far as he could until floodwaters prevented him from going further.

"I kinda got isolated from everybody," he said. "[It was] just me and I had a canoe."

He paddled into a neighborhood and went to several of houses, rescuing dozens of people, he said. 

"Most of [the rescues] were in the attic," he said. "The water in the back of that neighborhood was about ten feet deep or higher."

As the hours ticked away, Middendorf said the water did begin to recede. Although it was only knee deep in some parts, it continues to be chest deep with a strong current, in many areas that are still flooded in LaPlace.