On the sixteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida struck the United States roughly 45 miles west of where Hurricane Katrina initially hit land. Hurricane Ida struck the shores of Louisiana near Port Fourchon with 150-mph winds on August 29th, granting it the title of the fifth most powerful hurricane to touch the mainland United States. The Category 4 storm was responsible for reversing the flow of the Mississippi River, flooding living spaces and streets, and causing a power outage to all of New Orleans.
According to the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, energy companies revealed that generators were the lone source of power in the entire city following Hurricane Ida. “Entergy, a power company with 2.9 million customers across the South, said that all eight transmission lines that power the New Orleans area were out of service,” The New York Times explained. New Orleans forecasters predicted high temperatures during the weekend that followed the power outage, raising concern towards the well-being of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
As the city’s temperatures began rising in the days following the power outage, the lack of air conditioning and dwindling supplies raised prices significantly as many residents searched for vital resources. While New Orleans residents had access to clean drinking water, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans depended on generators at drainage and pumping stations. The supply and demand for drainage and pumping stations reached heightened levels as the power outage continued.
The grid recovery process necessary for power restoration involves strategically restoring energy to segments of the grid in the midst of stabilizing the electrical load. A grid requires the capacity to reserve surplus power in the transmission system to refrain from overloading the system if the energy supply and demand are not equivalent. “Seeding power haphazardly can result in power surges and fluctuations that would cause even more equipment damage and failures,” The Lens stated.
Governor John Bel Edwards emphasized that Louisiana was prioritizing the restoration of power to hospitals, especially since the generators that many hospitals had been using were expected to fail overtime. As hospitals are dealing with an inpouring of COVID-19 patients, blackouts forced health care workers to pump air into the lungs of patients’ on respirators manually while awaiting evacuation to locations with generators.
Following this massive power outage, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an 8 p.m. curfew. The mayor noted that this was a “proactive” measure since arrests had previously been made for looting. New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson declared that local and state police and the National Guard would be patrolling the streets throughout the curfew.
As of September 9, Entergy has restored power to 98-percent of New Orleans. As electricity has resurfaced to the vast majority of New Orleans residents, city officials and community members aim to take the next step of navigating the repercussions of Hurricane Ida: healing and recovery.
Sources: AP News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Lens