New Orleans managed to escape Hurricane Ida without major floods. The residents can thank a $14.5 billion levee system for working as planned. The system thankfully spared the city from a disastrous flood it experienced during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
New Orleans Levee System Prevented Major Floods
New Orlean’s system of levees, flood gates, and pumps proved their worth as they worked hard during Ida’s landfall in keeping water out.
Hurricane Ida, a Category 4 storm that brought heavy rains, extreme winds, and coastal surges, did cause some damage. Ida overwhelmed levees in areas north of New Orleans. It also penetrated areas just outside the 350-mile (560-km) protective ring around the city. Improvements for these structures finished in 2018 or 13 years after Katrina.
As a result of the upgrades, the core withstood the storm. In 2005, the levees failed, which resulted in 80% of New Orleans being submerged in water. For Ida last weekend, the levee worked perfectly and prevented the city from taking in water.
No Levees Breached
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East is the state agency managing the systems that help prevent floods in the area. It also manages the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS).
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The agency announced proudly that zero levees sustained damages during the storm. In addition, water pumping stations reported no problems as they carried water out of the city.
“For the most part, all of our levees performed extremely well, especially the federal levees,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. The governor made the rounds of inspections one day after Ida touched Louisiana. It made landfall in Port Fourchon, 60 miles south of New Orleans.
Power Knocked Out
However, the sturdy levees don’t mean New Orleans didn’t suffer any damages. “At the end of the day, the storm surge, the rain, the wind, all had devastating impacts across southeast Louisiana,” Edwards reported.
In fact, the storm knocked the power out in the city, rendering more than a million people throughout the state without electricity. This includes 850,000 New Orleans customers, according to energy provider Entergy. As one tower fell into the Mississippi River, it will take some time to restore power back to some homes.
Officials are still in the process of assessing the full damages brought by Ida. Howling winds ripped off roofs from many homes and businesses.
Local government officials asked residents in the southern area parishes such as Plaquemine, Alliance, and Jean Laffitte to move to higher grounds. Flooding threatened these areas as some levees outside New Orleans sustained damages.
Power Grid Will Take Days To Restore
Meanwhile, utility crews are working round the clock to get a better picture of the city’s power grid’s damages. Entergy warned that getting a complete assessment of the situation will take days.
This means that restoring power back to homes and businesses will take even longer. “If you have evacuated, now is not the time to return,” Governor Edwards said.
At the same time energy production, a key industry in the area, remains suspended. Almost all of the Gulf Coast’s oil companies have yet to resume full operations.
Inspectors will need to check out their equipment even before recommending to proceed with production. In addition, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement estimated that roughly 84.87% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains shut down. Consequently, cured oil and fuel prices will remain high while the state sorts everything out.
Telecommunications Disrupted in Some Areas
In addition, telecommunication services remain disrupted in some areas. Telco provider AT&T reported that the Louisiana wireless network is only working at 60% of capacity.
Restoration efforts are underway to bring some systems online. However, many areas remain inaccessible due to storm damages.
Watch the Bloomberg Markets and Finance video reporting that Hurricane Ida slams into New Orleans, tests levee system:
Do you agree that New Orleans fared better this time compared to its experience with Hurricane Ida? However, do you think they can still do better?
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