Hurricane Ida has left over 1 million people without electricity and caused “catastrophic damage” so far in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to the White House.
The “extremely large and powerful” hurricane made landfall in the Gulf Coast on Sunday and left massive destruction and flooding in its wake, causing “catastrophic damage” to energy providers’ transmission systems, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a Monday briefing.
It could take weeks to get power back in many areas, the White House said. This would leave people without refrigeration or air conditioning as temperatures are expected to stay in the high 80s this week.
Hurricane Ida is one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the U.S. The storm notably left all of New Orleans without power, tearing through the area on the 16th anniversary of the deadly Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the region in 2005.
Human-caused climate change contributes to storms becoming more powerful, according to climate researchers, with hurricanes bringing higher winds, releasing more rainfall and intensifying more quickly — leading to devastating consequences for affected communities.
The communities most vulnerable to climate change — including those that experience slower recoveries in the aftermath of climate disasters — are disproportionately poor, Black and Latinx. Both Louisiana and Mississippi have disproportionately Black populations.
Even as Ida has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it is expected to continue to produce heavy rainfall, and flooding remains a threat as the storm moves into other states, including Tennessee, warned the White House.
More than 3,600 responders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been deployed to the region and are focusing on search and rescue, medical evacuations, providing emergency food and shelter, and restoring electrical power.
Over 2,200 people have sought safety in dozens of shelters in Louisiana so far, The Associated Press reported. Those running emergency shelters are taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Psaki said.