With electricity still out for hundreds of thousands of customers and a punishing heat settling over southern Louisiana, New Orleans instituted a curfew on Tuesday night as officials warned that recovery from Hurricane Ida could take days or even weeks.
As search-and-rescue efforts continued for those still stranded in the storm’s aftermath, Gov. John Bel Edwards offered no timeline for when the state would be able to welcome back residents who had fled the storm.
“Many of the life-supporting infrastructure elements are not present, they’re not operating right now,” Mr. Edwards said in a news conference in LaPlace on Tuesday. “So if you have already evacuated, do not return.”
The aftermath of the storm has grown dire enough for its mayor, LaToya Cantrell, to enforce a citywide curfew on Tuesday beginning at 8 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m.
City officials have not ruled out a post-storm evacuation of the city.
But for the moment, their efforts on Tuesday were focused on getting resources to residents, including tarpaulins, food, water and ice.
“We know it’s hot, we know we don’t have any power,” Ms. Cantrell said during a news conference, adding that the power company, Entergy, had yet to give a timeline for restoring electricity to the city.
“We are not even there yet to tell you what day” the lights would come back on, the mayor said.
More than a million utility customers remained without power on Tuesday, including much of New Orleans, where all eight transmission lines that deliver power to the city had been knocked out of service. In Mississippi, about 40,000 customers lacked electricity, according to reports compiled by PowerOutage.us.
Inability to run air-conditioning threatened to become a dangerous problem for vulnerable residents of the region, as heat and humidity made the air in much of southern Louisiana and Mississippi feel hotter than 100 degrees.
Like the governor, local officials warned residents who left ahead of the storm to stay away for now. Basic services like emergency response, and everyday amenities of modern life like water, sewage and passable roadways, could not be guaranteed in many places, they said.
Residents who stayed behind surveyed the damage and expressed a lingering feeling of having been hit by something far stronger than they had expected.
“Katrina was a picnic for us compared to what this one was,” said Ronald Dufrene, 63, who rode out the storm in his 103-foot-long steel shrimp boat on the bayou near his home in Jean Lafitte.
Many houses around his suffered roof damage, and some that were supported on low cement pilings had “drifted off,” he said, and were now awkwardly perched in a neighbor’s yard. “It’s going to be a long road to recovery,” Mr. Dufrene said.
At least five deaths have been attributed to the storm, which on Tuesday was producing heavy rain in Middle Tennessee, officials said. In Louisiana, a man was killed while driving in New Orleans; a woman was found dead in Jean Lafitte, south of the city; and a man was killed in Prairieville, about 20 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, where a tree fell on a house. In Mississippi, two people were killed and 10 were injured when a highway collapsed.
Entergy, a major power company in Louisiana, said in a statement on Tuesday that customers in “the hardest-hit areas could experience power outages for weeks,” and some local officials warned that they could last as long as a month.
The governor expressed frustration with the prospect of lengthy outages. “I’m not satisfied with 30 days, the Entergy people aren’t satisfied with 30 days, nobody who’s out there needing power is satisfied with that,” Mr. Edwards said. “But I am mindful that we just had the strongest hurricane — at least tied for the strongest — that the state has ever experienced, and infrastructure has been damaged.”
Officials expressed satisfaction that the levee system around New Orleans, upgraded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to better protect the city from flooding, had done its job.
But two days after the storm, the relief that residents might have felt at having dodged one devastating possibility dissipated in the sweltering heat and the dispiriting search for an open store to buy basics.
“I don’t know what we are going to do,” Gerardo Caal, 41, said. “There’s no food. And we don’t have electricity to cook.”
Two days after Hurricane Ida arrived in Southern Louisiana, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses remained without power and many could stay that way for weeks as crews work to restore downed power lines belonging to Entergy, the largest utility in the state.
It was the second year in a row that the company’s lines suffered extensive damage from hurricanes and storms, which scientists believe are becoming more intense and damaging because of climate change. As anger and frustration build in New Orleans and southern Louisiana, where the heat and humidity made it feel like more than 100 degrees on Tuesday, some energy experts questioned whether Entergy did enough to protect its lines and equipment from extreme weather.
In August 2020, Hurricane Laura, which like Ida was a Category 4 storm, cut a destructive path across Louisiana, toppling many of Entergy’s lines and equipment.
“Their vintage equipment didn’t stand up to Laura, and I suspect the same report for Ida,” said Robert McCullough, an energy consultant who runs McCullough Research in Portland, Ore.
The company’s power plants have the ability to generate electricity but Entergy can’t move that energy to homes and businesses because the storm has brought down or damaged much of its network of towers, poles and wires.
Entergy said it had shut down a natural gas plant in New Orleans that began operation last year, pointing to damage to power lines, including those that carry electricity to homes and businesses. That plant, which was meant to provide electricity to the city during periods of high demand and in emergencies, was not heavily damaged in the storm, the company said.
Several other plants near the city also are ready to produce electricity when workers complete enough repairs to power lines. They include Ninemile 6 in Westwego, La., and the J. Wayne Leonard Power Station in Montz, La.
“Teams are assessing the transmission system and working to develop a plan for restoration of power,” Jerry Nappi, a spokesman for Entergy, said in an email on Tuesday. “They expect to have first light within the city by end of day Wednesday.”
The company said on Monday that Hurricane Ida had put 216 substations and more than 2,000 miles of transmission lines out of service. A conductor on one transmission line fell from an Entergy tower into the Mississippi River near Avondale, La. The utility and others have posted numerous pictures online of transmission and distribution towers lying on the ground.
The storm also damaged some of the utility’s plants in the New Orleans area, Entergy said on Tuesday. As the storm’s winds increased, Entergy said, it disconnected the Waterford 3 Nuclear Generating Station in St. Charles Parish from the grid, noting that the facility remained in a safe and stable condition. The plant was listed on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission site as not producing power.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has praised Entergy for building the J. Wayne Leonard plant, expressed some frustration on Tuesday with the pace at which the company was restoring power.
“I’m not satisfied with 30 days, the Entergy people aren’t satisfied with 30 days, nobody who’s out there needing power is satisfied with that,” Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, said. “But I am mindful that we just had the strongest hurricane — at least tied for the strongest — that the state has ever experienced.”
Entergy provides power to three million customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas. It also operates several nuclear power plants, most of them in the South.
The financial costs of storms are piling up for Entergy. In addition to the repairs it is making because of Ida, the company’s equipment was damaged in three hurricanes in 2020 and a winter storm this year. Entergy told Louisiana regulators that restoration costs in the state relating to the earlier storms would total $2.1 billion.
Storms appear to be taking a bigger toll. Regulators let Entergy entities recover $732 million for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which hit in 2005, according to materials that Phillip May, chief executive of Entergy Louisiana, submitted to the Louisiana Public Service Commission in April. After adjusting for inflation, the two 2005 hurricanes cost the company $1 billion in 2021 dollars.
The company is seeking permission to charge customers higher electricity rates to cover repair costs. Regulators typically end up approving such requests, but ratepayers may object to frequent rate increases.
In its request to raise rates, Entergy detailed the scale of the wreckage of the most damaging of last year’s storms — Hurricane Laura. The company said 1,822 transmission structures, 12,453 distribution poles and roughly 770 miles of distribution wires were destroyed or damaged.
The total bill for the 2020 hurricanes may be even higher than the company has estimated so far. In February, Entergy said in a securities filing that hurricanes last year damaged several transmission lines, including an unspecified one in southeastern Louisiana. The company said that the line had not been repaired because it could cost a lot to do so. “The restoration plan for this transmission line and the related cost estimate is still being evaluated,” Entergy said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Entergy did not immediately respond to questions about that transmission line and whether it had been repaired or removed.
The company, which employs more than 13,000 people, brought in $10.1 billion in revenue in 2020 and its profits climbed 12 percent, to $1.4 billion. Though Entergy will most likely be able to pass on storm costs to customers, the company has struggled to win over investors. Over the past two years, its stock is down about 2 percent, compared with a 10 percent increase for utility stocks in the S&P 500 and 55 percent for the S&P 500 as a whole.
Sophie Kasakove contributed reporting.
The mayor of New Orleans imposed an 8 p.m. curfew on Tuesday as the city continued to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which left the metropolis without power and vulnerable to looters.
The mayor, LaToya Cantrell, said at an evening news conference that she had signed an executive order mandating a citywide curfew that will run from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. She did not say when the curfew would end.
Ms. Cantrell said the city was trying to curb looting and the city’s police chief said the curfew was needed to keep the streets safe at night.
“And as the night falls, there are no streetlights,” the chief, Shaun Ferguson, said. “So with that being said, it is totally unsafe, and there is absolutely no reason for anyone to be in the streets of the city of New Orleans.”
“So as the mayor has already stated, effective today, 8 p.m. tonight, we will be enforcing our curfew ordinance, meaning that we are expecting everyone to comply,” Mr. Ferguson added.
New Orleans is also continuing to enforce anti-looting laws with its police department and the Louisiana national guard, among others. “We have made several arrests for looting,” Chief Ferguson said. “And we will continue to be making these arrests.”
Looting is a felony in the state of Louisiana. Chief Ferguson said that he would ask the city’s district attorney to prosecute looters “to the fullest extent of the law.”
“It is somewhat of an embarrassment to have a small group of individuals take these unnecessary actions while our city is vulnerable,” the chief said.
City officials said they have still not ruled out a post-storm evacuation of the city. They once again asked residents who have evacuated not to return home right away.
NEW ORLEANS — Nearly all of the built city survived this time. But the misery has already arrived in New Orleans, after Hurricane Ida punched up the city on Sunday night.
It was especially pronounced on a stretch of South Claiborne Avenue, a busy, workaday traffic artery crowded with gas stations and convenience stores. Nearly all of them were closed on Tuesday, but the place was thrumming with nervous, negative energy — and with people suffering and scheming, or not sure where to go or what to do.
On the corner of Josephine Street, dozens of Spanish-speaking day workers crowded around a reporter when they heard the conversation turn to food. There were about 40 Hispanic men, all hoping to catch a cleanup job. But no vans or trucks came by. The sun was beating strong. The men were sweating.
Gerardo Caal, a 41-year-old man from Guatemala in a baseball cap, served as a kind of unofficial spokesman. “I don’t know what we are going to do,” he said. “There’s no food. And we don’t have electricity to cook.”
A few yards away, a line of cars stretching for blocks ended at one of the few open gas stations in the area. Malcolm Scott, 60, said he had been waiting for hours to get gas. He was not trying to get out of town, he said, but to move from New Orleans East — which was devastated by flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — to his girlfriend’s place on the third floor of an apartment building. He said he was afraid that the levees might still be breached.
As for leaving town, he chuckled, darkly, “Ain’t nowhere to go.”
“People don’t want New Orleans people no more, since Katrina,” he said. “They think we’re the worst of the worst.”
Mr. Scott said he had no idea how to get access to some of the emergency services that were popping up around the city.
“How’re you going to go to the website, when all the phones are cut off?” he said. “We don’t have no food. Hopefully FEMA will come, but it’s getting real dangerous right now.”
A block away, a New Orleans Police Department cruiser was parked outside a Family Dollar store that appeared to have been looted; its front door was smashed in. The officers would not comment, and in mid-conversation, they zoomed off toward the sound of other sirens.
Inside the store, bottles of hair-care products and food were strewn on the floor along with broken glass from the front door. Two employees were recording the damage on their phones. “I guess we’re not coming back to work for two months,” said one of them, a young woman. “We knew this was going to happen.”
A black sedan pulled up with a family inside. The worker said that the store did not have anything for sale.
“No diapers, no nothing?” a voice said from inside the car.
The young worker shrugged.
A man stepped out of the car, looked over his shoulders, and stepped through the hole in the Dollar Store door.
‘I didn’t know if I was going to see a home.’
First the cellphone service was spotty, and then it dropped out altogether, leaving Caitlin Lapeyrouse, 28, with no way to reach her grandmother in Montegut, La., on Tuesday, or to reach neighbors in Chauvin, a few miles away, to check on her own house. She’d have to go see for herself.
Ms. Lapeyrouse had ridden out the storm at her in-laws’ in Houma, La., along with her husband and four children. “My ears kept popping,” she said. “You could swear the house was breathing, because you could feel the whole thing shaking.”
Now she was anxious to know what had happened closer to home. So she and her husband jumped in the car and maneuvered their way around road debris and downed power lines as they drove southeast to her grandmother’s place.
Along the way, she said, they saw little major flooding but a lot of wind damage to structures and utility poles. “Coming down, looking at everything, I was scared,” she said. “I was upset. I was crying. I didn’t know if I was going to see a home.”
She was relieved to find that her grandmother was OK. “Luckily, her home was there, with some broken windows,” Ms. Lapeyrouse said.
Her own house in Chauvin turned out to be in similar condition. Now the family has work to do.
“We were hit bad down here,” she said. “Nobody in Terrebonne Parish has water or electricity. We’re trying to find ways to get food, and fuel, and water.”
— Jacey Fortin
‘We’ve never been through a storm where we were denied entry.’
Krystal Neal, 32, was shocked when drone footage showed her home in Bourg still standing on Monday.
Wind had skinned the live oak tree in her yard, but it, too, remained upright after Ida ripped through the bayou town in lower Terrebonne Parish. Even the plastic kiddie pool was exactly where Ms. Neal, her husband and two children left it when they packed their clothes, schoolbooks and pets into a camper and fled to stay with relatives in Opelousas ahead of the storm.
“We’re fortunate and we’re blessed,” she said. “We still have a home to go to.”
Her parents’ home in Chauvin, which she helped build as a girl, is wrecked, its roof ripped off. Both of Ms. Neal’s parents are disabled; they escaped before the storm to Kingston, Okla., nearly 500 miles away — the nearest place they could find accommodations. As their booking ran out, they began the trek back to Louisiana; where they will land is unclear.
Ms. Neal chafed at warnings from officials to stay away. Many in southern Louisiana can’t afford to stick it out in hotels, she said. Her parents, for whom homeowners’ insurance is prohibitively expensive, can’t afford not to return home and salvage what they can, she added. Applying for federal aid is a distant concern.
Some of her neighbors who rode out the storm at home regret the decision. After struggling for days without running water, some have begun trying to leave.
But Ms. Neal wants to return as soon as Wednesday, and is steeling herself for the heat and the heartache she will find. The family will fill up plastic bags with water and bathe with washrags, she said, but they will be back where they want to be.
“It’s utterly ridiculous that they’re advising people that they can’t come back home,” she said. “We’ve never been through a storm where we were denied entry.”
“We want to go home,” she said.
— Christiaan Mader
‘When you get wiped out, what are you going to do?’
As if riding out Hurricane Ida were not enough, Richard Ruttley had an arduous journey start as soon as the storm passed: He was rescued from his house in Barataria, La.; carried out of town by a high-water vehicle; and then put on a bus to a warehouse-turned-shelter in Alexandria, more than 200 miles away. As he was getting off the bus, he fell and chipped a bone in his knuckle, adding another leg of his trek, to the emergency room.
He was still bracing himself, though. He knew an even longer road lied ahead.
“It’s just, you feel out of place when you’re not in your own place,” said Mr. Ruttley, 72, his injured left hand bound in gauze. “When you get wiped out, what are you going to do?”
His house, perched two stories above the ground on pilings, had some siding torn off one wall, and he did not know how the roof had fared. Structurally, the house was OK, but it would be weeks before he could reasonably return to Barataria, a tiny community of about 1,200 people in the watery and rapidly eroding territory south of New Orleans.
He remained rattled by what he saw in the storm, he said, as water swept in to town and the powerful wind made the driving rain dance outside his windows. He could see some of the devastation as he fled, including a bridge battered by boats and other vessels that were slammed into it by the storm.
Mr. Ruttley was one of about 80 people who were staying at a large shelter in Alexandria run by state officials. All the evacuees were from Jefferson Parish, which includes Barataria. He said he was grateful for a place to stay. “I’ve got to rely on other people,” he said of evacuating.
He was hoping that he would now get help finding temporary housing and meeting his medical needs. He’d like an electric scooter, but he’d take a walker, too, he said: “It’s my old age — body aches and pains.”
Hurricanes are nothing new to Mr. Ruttley. Betsy, Katrina, Camille: “Been through every one since 1949 — large and small,” he said. “This is the worst I’ve seen.”
If he has his way, though, Ida will be the last. He plans to go home to Barataria eventually, he said — but just to load up his possessions and leave the coast behind.
— Rick Rojas
‘We’re borrowing money to pay for a room’
Because of what they had gone through after Hurricane Katrina, when they were only teenagers, Terrell Reynolds, 33, and Kortney Lindsey, 32, evacuated to Houston with their four children and two other relatives before Ida struck.
But now they are frantic, unsure when they can return to their jobs in New Orleans and their apartment in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Officials told them not to return because the city has no electricity for the foreseeable future. Public schools are closed until further notice.
“We’re borrowing money to pay for a room for tonight,” said Mr. Reynolds, adding that many other people in the hotel were in a similar position.
Even if they get financial assistance, the family would need to clean out its refrigerator and recover some toys and clothes before feeling comfortable staying away from home. Mr. Reynolds said he also wanted to pick up the beaded patches he was sewing for an elaborate Mardi Gras suit.
“We didn’t prepare to stay away for a long time,” he said. “No one thought it was going to be like this.”
— Katy Reckdahl
‘This was Katrina times two’
Ida’s powerful winds shredded much of LaPlace, a city west of New Orleans, where rescue crews on Monday were using one street as a launch ramp for their boats.
Shopping centers looked pulverized with their roofs shorn off and their parking lots covered in debris. Utility poles and trees had splintered. Traffic lights dangled over intersections, hanging by a thread.
Those who rode out the hurricane there described a harrowing encounter with the storm’s force, with wind kicking up water to create a blinding mist.
“It was zero to 60 — quick, real quick,” a local rapper who performs as O.G. Purpin said as he and a friend carried a barbecue grill out of the flooded neighborhood.
“This was Katrina times two,” said his friend, who gave his name as Jeff.
On Sunday night, the rapper had huddled with his girlfriend, her family and their pets in an attic as the storm swirled around the house. It was early in the morning when rescuers came by and pulled them to safety.
— Rick Rojas
The remnants of Hurricane Ida were expected to bring stormy conditions to a large swath of the United States, from Tennessee to Massachusetts, over the next few days.
Ida, now a tropical depression, cut across the upper left corner of Alabama on Tuesday morning and continued northeastward into Tennessee. The storm’s winds had died down to about 30 miles an hour, but it continued to produce heavy rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“The flooding threat is definitely not ended,” the National Weather Service in Nashville said. “Please stay vigilant.” The service had flash flood watches posted across the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys, the central and southern Appalachians, and into the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England.
So much rain fell in Manchester, Tenn., southeast of Nashville, over the past 24 hours that this weekend’s Bonnaroo music festival was canceled.
“The ground is incredibly saturated on our tollbooth paths, and the campgrounds are flooded to the point that we are unable to drive in or park vehicles safely,” the festival said on Twitter, adding, “Mother Nature has dealt us a tremendous amount of rain.”
About two hours west in Waverly, Tenn., the site of devastating floods this month, residents were watching the sky.
“It’s pretty much been raining all day,” said Patti Kriss, a volunteer at the Waverly First Baptist Church, which became a temporary hub for donations after floodwaters rushed through the streets two weeks ago, damaging hundreds of houses and leaving 21 people dead.
Many people in the area remain displaced from their homes, and schools were closed because of flood damage. “We have quite a few families staying in the motels along I-40 and Highway 13,” Ms. Kriss said, “and their kids are bored, and they don’t have anything to do.”
The rain on Tuesday afternoon was wetting down the mountains of damp debris that have been piled along roads in the area for days. “There was some fear running through the community,” Ms. Kriss said about Ida’s approach. “We’re just praying that it moves on by — that it just drops a little bit and doesn’t drop a lot.”
Elizabeth Gini, a co-owner of MGC BBQ and Pizzeria in Burns, Tenn., has been using a food truck to deliver meals to survivors of this month’s floods. “A lot of people were just devastated about the loss of life, and confused about what to do next,” she said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Ida’s leading bands of rain were not hampering relief efforts. “We wanted to be careful not to put ourselves or others in danger in order to get the food out today,” Ms. Gini said. “But it turns out that the weather is quite mild right now.”
Conditions were more unsettled further south, the National Weather Service said, with the threat of tornadoes across eastern Alabama, western Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday evening. The threat will shift to portions of the Mid-Atlantic region on Wednesday.
While Louisiana bore the brunt of Ida, the storm also cut into Mississippi as a powerful hurricane, toppling trees, bringing down power lines and washing away part of a highway, causing at least two deaths.
The deaths occurred when a section of major highway collapsed in George County, in the state’s southeast, said Malary White, the external affairs director for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Ten other people were injured.
“Compared to Louisiana, we caught a big break,” Ms. White said. “But unfortunately two people did lose their lives, and that’s where it impacted us.”
Hurricane Ida, which made landfall Sunday morning in Louisiana, reached the Mississippi Gulf Coast by early Monday, and was downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reached central Mississippi on Monday afternoon.
As of Tuesday morning, at least 130,000 people were without power in their homes, according to David Cox, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Jackson, Miss.
Ms. White said the state expected to have a preliminary damage assessment by Wednesday, and was considering applying for a federal disaster declaration.
Nearly 1,500 Tulane University students were leaving New Orleans on chartered buses headed to Houston, the school said on Tuesday.
As New Orleans stretched into another day without power after Ida roared through as a Category 4 hurricane this weekend, the university decided that evacuating students who had not already left was the best course of action.
The decision was made based on “the city’s lack of power and the impact of Hurricane Ida,” Mike Strecker, a university spokesman, said.
Tulane had previously announced that classes would be canceled through Sept. 12 and indefinitely closed its campus, moving Saturday’s football game against the University of Oklahoma from the Superdome to Norman, Okla. When classes resume, they will be completely online until Oct. 6 “to give the city time to repair and reinstate power and other critical services.”
In the days leading up to Ida’s landfall, Tulane offered shuttle services to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. As the storm raged, several residence halls on the Tulane campus, which is protected by the city’s levee system, became shelters for students who remained.
On Tuesday, the university chartered 30 buses, each containing about 50 students, to Hyatt and Marriott hotels in downtown Houston, according to Mr. Strecker. Students were instructed to take no more than two suitcases with them on the bus, including computers, medications and other essentials.
Parents and families of students were grateful to learn of the evacuation, Mr. Strecker said.
“We’ll be temporarily housing them in those hotels until they can get flights, or other transportation, back home,” he added.
After Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, Tulane closed its campus for only the second time in the school’s history — the first was the Civil War — and did not reopen until January. Students at Tulane were among an estimated 25,000 students displaced from New Orleans universities and colleges.
Alan Blinder contributed reporting.
The effects of Hurricane Ida will be felt far from where it made landfall in southern Louisiana on Sunday. As it moves across the Upper Ohio Valley and toward the Northeast later in the week, it is likely to cause heavy downpours, including up to 10 inches of rain in some parts of the Mid-Atlantic. More than 80 million Americans were under a flood watch or advisory, with the majority associated with Ida’s heavy rains.
Although scientists are not yet certain about how climate change affects every characteristic of tropical cyclones, there is broad consensus that a warming climate will bring more extreme and heavy rainfall during storms. Warming increases the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, which in turn can produce more rain.
“We tend to think that once tropical storms move over land they run out of fuel,” said Rosimar Ríos-Barríos, a research meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. But the winds in a tropical storm can extend thousands of miles from its center. In this case, even as Ida moves inland, Dr. Ríos-Barríos said, it will continue to draw in very warm, wet air from over the Gulf of Mexico and wrap it around its cyclone. That air can contribute to worsening rainfall.
“We are seeing this increase in extreme rainfall for all types of events,” said Suzana Camargo, a climate scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. “But with hurricanes, we would expect more intense rainfall. That’s what happened with Ida.”
The amount of rainfall associated with a tropical cyclone has to do with how hard it rains and for how long, which itself depends on a cyclone’s speed. Rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest tropical cyclone on record, dropped more than 60 inches in eastern Texas in 2017. The heavy rain, and subsequent flooding, was caused in part by the hurricane stalling near the coastline.
Ida was continuing to move at around 10 to 15 miles an hour, “an expected pace,” said Dr. Ríos-Barríos. The primary weather system in the United States moves in a general V-shaped pattern. Winds from the Western United States move south toward the Gulf of Mexico, then turn toward the northern Atlantic. But other weather systems can bring currents in opposing directions, changing the direction of a storm or altering its speed.
As a tropical cyclone moves farther inland, its path is driven by a contrast in temperature. Dr. Ríos-Barríos said that may be one reason central Pennsylvania and West Virginia are expected to see such extreme rainfall, up to 10 inches in some places. There, the cyclone may develop a warm front, which will lift the air, create clouds, and produce more rainfall.
Many of these areas in the storm’s path have already received exceptional rain this summer, leaving some rivers higher and soils more saturated, worsening the risk of flooding. The Middle Tennessee Valley, which experienced flash flooding earlier this month that killed at least 20 people, may see up to four inches of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Whether climate change made Ida and the scope of its flooding more likely, and if so, by how much, won’t be known until scientists can perform an attribution study, a type of research that quantifies the links between climate change and specific extreme weather events.
But scientists agree that Ida is a harbinger of future hurricanes. “If our planet continues to warm at the alarming pace that it is warming, then Ida is an example of what we might expect to see in the future,” said Dr. Ríos-Barríos. “That’s very scary.”
In normal times, the devastation of a massive hurricane like Ida tends to be followed by an aggressive rebuilding effort, as carpenters, roofers and other skilled workers descend on affected communities to repair the damage.
These are not normal times.
With the global supply chain besieged by trouble — extreme shipping delays, persistent product shortages and soaring costs — construction teams are likely to struggle to secure needed goods. At the same time, the hurricane’s damage to critical industries in the Gulf Coast area and the urgent need to rebuild are expected to cascade through the country’s already strained shipping infrastructure.
“The supply was already terrible,” said Eric Byer, the president of the National Association of Chemical Distributors, a trade association representing 400 companies that make and sell raw materials used in a vast array of industries, including construction and pharmaceuticals. “Now, it’s going to be worse.”
For months, a surge of trade from Asia to the United States has exhausted the supply of shipping containers, forcing buyers to pay 10 times the usual rate on popular routes like Shanghai to Los Angeles.
As dockworkers have contracted Covid-19 or have landed in quarantine, loading and unloading at ports has been constrained. The pandemic has sidelined truck drivers, limiting the availability of vehicles that can carry products from ports to warehouses to customers.
Hurricane Ida will almost certainly make this situation worse, as available trucks are diverted en masse toward affected communities to deliver relief supplies. No one questions the merits of this course, but it will leave even fewer trucks available to carry goods everywhere else, intensifying already-profound shortages.
“The domestic trucking situation has been bad for some time, and the hurricane will add to that,” said Megan Gluth-Bohan, the chief executive of TRInternational, an importer and distributor of chemicals just outside Seattle. “You’re going to see more logjams at the ports.”
Her company relies on a supplier in Taiwan for hydrocarbon resins, selling them to American manufacturers of paints, varnishes and other coatings. She brings in chemicals from Thailand that are included in industrial cleaning products and imports glycols, which are used in food products, makeup and industrial coatings.
“These are the raw materials that make everything,” Ms. Gluth-Bohan said.
Ms. Gluth-Bohan was still assessing the impact of Ida on her industry, but it seemed obvious that the rebuilding effort would face challenges as the availability of necessary supplies became even tighter.
“It’s going to have a significant impact,” she said. “Companies that make coatings, paint, shingles or treated lumber — a lot of these companies are going to have to slow down.”
Part of the impact is a result of where the storm landed. The Gulf Coast is home to refineries and plants that make all manner of industrial chemicals — a fact brought home last winter, when an intense freeze in the region knocked factories out of commission, causing product shortages that still endure.
In Ida’s wake, the plastics industry was girding for another jump in prices that were already at record highs.
The Royale Group, which manufactures and distributes chemicals from its base near Wilmington, Del., buys only a small percentage of its supplies from plants on the Gulf of Mexico. But that is no comfort, said the company’s chief executive, John Logue, because shortages of a single ingredient can be enough to halt production of many items.
The auto industry has been severely constrained by a persistent shortage of computer chips. Similarly, Mr. Logue’s company, which relies heavily on suppliers in China and India, has for weeks been unable to complete an order for a pharmaceutical company because it is waiting for one raw material.
“Any hiccup in the supply chain right now just adds fuel to the disaster,” Mr. Logue said. “We are not manufacturing what we want to manufacture. We are manufacturing what we are able to manufacture.”
Local and national volunteers and aid groups are prepared to rescue, feed and give shelter to those who have been affected by Hurricane Ida and its aftermath. Here is some guidance for those who wish to help.
Before you give, do your research.
Natural disasters create ripe opportunities for fraudsters who prey on vulnerable people in need and exploit the generous impulses of others who want to donate money to help them. The Federal Communications Commission noted that scammers use phone calls, text messages, email and postal mail, and even go door to door. The Federal Trade Commission has tips on how to spot a fraudulent charity or fund-raiser.
Donations of money, rather than of goods, are usually the best way to help, because they are more flexible and can readily be redirected when needs change.
If you suspect that an organization or individual is engaged in fraudulent activity after a natural disaster, report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, or to the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-866-720-5721. FEMA also maintains a website that fact-checks information about assistance and highlights ways to avoid scams.
Here are some local organizations in the storm area.
All Hands and Hearts prepared for Ida by stationing its disaster assessment and response team in Beaumont, Texas. Its volunteers will enter areas affected by the storm when they can, meeting initial needs that will probably include chain-saw work to clear debris and trees, roof tarping, mucking and gutting flooded houses, and sanitizing homes with mold contamination.
The Second Harvest Food Bank, which serves South Louisiana, has prepared more than 3,500 disaster-readiness food boxes with items like rehydration drinks and nutrition bars, as well as bottled water. It also maintains cooking equipment that can be transported to heat prepared meals. Donations of bottled water and cleaning supplies are welcome. Volunteers can apply to help, but donating money is the most efficient way to assist the aid effort, the organization said.
Culture Aid NOLA has set up an impromptu cooking hub at the Howlin’ Wolf nightclub in New Orleans using thawing food from the freezers of restaurants experiencing power outages. The meals will be distributed to people in need, said Julie Pfeffer, a director. The group, which was originally formed to help people during the pandemic, has a donations page. It needs volunteers, trucks and takeaway containers.
AirLink is a nonprofit humanitarian flight organization that ships aid, emergency workers and medical personnel to communities in crisis. It has joined Operation BBQ Relief to supply equipment, cooks and volunteers to prepare meals for people affected by the storm. Donations are welcome.
SBP, originally known as the St. Bernard Project, was founded in 2006 by a couple in St. Bernard Parish who were frustrated by the slow response after Hurricane Katrina. It focuses on restoring damaged homes and businesses and supporting recovery policies. Its Hurricane Ida plan needs donations, which will pay for supplies for home rebuilding and protective equipment for team members.
A number of volunteer rescue groups operate under some variation of the name Cajun Navy. One is Cajun Navy Relief, a volunteer disaster response team that became a formal nonprofit organization in 2017; it has provided relief and rescue services during more than a dozen of Louisiana’s floods, hurricanes and tropical storms. The team has identified supplies that are needed and is accepting donations.
Rebuilding Together New Orleans, which uses volunteer labor to repair homes, accepts donations to help with its work. The organization has also created an online wish list, and a hotline number: 844-965-1386.
Bayou Community Foundation works with local partners in Terrebonne Parish, Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle in coastal southeast Louisiana. It has set up an Ida relief fund.
Louisiana Baptists, a statewide network of 1,600 churches, has an online form for people to request help in recovery. Its relief efforts include the removal of trees from homes and the tarping of roofs, as well as meals, laundry services and counseling. Those wishing to donate can go here.
National organizations are lending a hand.
AmeriCares, a health-focused relief and development organization, is responding to Ida in Louisiana and Mississippi and matching donations. Vito Castelgrande, the leader of its Hurricane Ida team, said the organization would begin assessing damage in the hardest-hit communities when it is safe to travel.
Mercy Chefs, a Virginia-based nonprofit group, was founded in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the hometown of its founder, Gary LeBlanc. The organization has served more than 15 million meals to people affected by natural disasters or who have other needs. The group has deployed two mobile kitchens to serve hot meals in Ida’s wake and is accepting donations.
GoFundMe has created a centralized hub with verified GoFundMe fund-raisers to help those affected by Ida. It will be updated with new fund-raisers as they are verified.
Project HOPE has sent an emergency response team with 11 medical volunteers and has distributed 8,000 hygiene kits, which include items like shampoo, soap, a toothbrush, deodorant and first-aid supplies. Donations can be made solely for Hurricane Ida emergency relief.
The Red Cross has mobilized hundreds of trained disaster workers and relief supplies to support people in evacuation shelters. About 600 volunteers were prepared to support Ida relief efforts, and shelters have been opened in Louisiana and Mississippi, with cots, blankets, comfort kits and ready-to-eat meals. The organization has also positioned products needed for blood transfusions. Donations can be made through redcross.org, or 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999.
The Salvation Army has prepared field kitchens and other relief supplies to help along the Gulf Coast.
United Way of Southeast Louisiana is collecting donations for a relief fund to rebuild and provide long-term assistance, including community grants.