Hurricane Ida leaves Louisiana without power, Mississippi highway collapses
Two people were killed and 10 injured in a road collapse on a Mississippi highway likely triggered by heavy rains unleashed by Hurricane Ida, a powerful storm that left Louisiana and neighboring states without power, officials said on Tuesday.
Three people among those injured were in critical condition, according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The collapse affected a portion of Highway 26 in George County, about 53 miles northeast of Biloxi.
“We’ve had a lot of rain with Ida, torrential,” Mississippi Highway Patrol officer Calvin Robertson said. “Part of the highway just washed out.”
Seven vehicles plunged into a 50-foot ditch that resulted from the highway collapse, local media reported.
Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, had weakened to a tropical depression by late Monday as it churned over Mississippi, where the system brought heavy rains overnight.
The storm, which deluged Louisiana with rain and killed at least two people in the state, caused widespread power outages across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and prompted rescue operations in flooded communities around New Orleans.
By early Tuesday, over 1 million customers remained without power in Louisiana, according to PowerOutage, which gathers data from U.S. utility companies.
Residents in the hardest-hit areas could experience power outages for weeks, utility company Entergy said on Monday. Many water systems in the state were also out. Officials in Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans metropolitan area asked residents to conserve water to prevent sewage system backups.
Widespread flooding and power outages also slowed efforts on Tuesday by energy firms to assess damages at oil production facilities, ports and refineries.
Climate change is fueling deadly and disastrous weather across the globe, including stronger and more damaging hurricanes.
Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, evoking memories of a disaster that killed more than 1,800 people in 2005 and devastated New Orleans.
But a $14.5 billion system of levees, flood gates and pumps designed in the wake of Katrina’s devastation largely worked as designed during Ida, officials said, sparing New Orleans from the catastrophic flooding that devastated the area 16 years ago.
The state’s healthcare systems also appeared to have largely escaped catastrophic damage at a time when Louisiana is reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections that has strained hospitals.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)