NEW ORLEANS, La. — At least one person has now died as a result of Hurricane Ida as the storm continues to hit Louisiana with high winds and heavy rain.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office reported the first death related to the storm at about 10 p.m. ET Sunday. The sheriff's office, which is located northwest of New Orleans, said in a Facebook post that deputies received reports of a citizen possibly injured from a fallen tree in Prairieville. When officers arrived, they confirmed the person has died.
Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm at 12:55 p.m. ET Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It has since been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, but still poses a threat to those in its path.
In an advisory, the NHC said Ida’s maximum sustained winds were around 150 mph upon landfall at the port south of New Orleans. Based on the Saffir-Simpson scale, hurricanes with wind speeds between 130 and 156 mph are considered Category 4 storms. In an 11 p.m. ET update, the NHC said maximum sustained winds were down to 105 mph, making it a Category 2 storm.
Ahead of the hurricane, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Ida would be one of the strongest storms to hit Louisiana since at least the 1850s, and it's one of the powerful storms in history to hit the U.S.
Watch Gov. John Bel Edwards provide a storm update:
The National Hurricane Center says “extremely life-threatening” storm surge inundation of 9 feet or greater above ground level is imminent somewhere within the area from Burns Point, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
“Overtopping of local levees outside of the hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System is possible where local inundation values may be higher,” said the NHC.
The NHC says “catastrophic” wind damage is likely where the core of Ida moves onshore along the southeast coast of Louisiana starting Sunday morning. Hurricane-force winds are expected Sunday in the hurricane warning area along the Louisiana coast, including in metropolitan New Orleans.
“Damaging winds, especially in gusts, will spread inland near the track of the center of Ida across portions of southeastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi (Sunday) through early Monday,” wrote the NHC. “These winds will likely lead to widespread tree damage and power outages.”
Officials say Ida will produce heavy rainfall Sunday through Monday across the central Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana, coastal Mississippi, to far southwestern Alabama, resulting in considerable to life-threatening flash and urban flooding and significant river flooding.
As Ida moves north, winds speeds are set to gradually decrease and the storm's category will drop.
“As Ida moves inland, significant flooding impacts are possible across portions of the Lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys through Wednesday,” the NHC said.
Ida's landfall in Louisiana comes 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and devastated parts of the region.
Damage and power outages reported in Louisiana
Damage is being reported in eastern Louisiana as Hurricane Ida bears down on the state.
The storm has blown off roofs, knocked out power to nearly 600,000 customers, and reversed the flow of the Mississippi River, The Associated Press reports. Entergy New Orleans said Sunday evening that all of Orleans Parish was without power due to “catastrophic damage” to its transmission system. City officials said the only people with power in New Orleans were those with generators.
Officials in The Big Easy said a number of sewer pump stations on both the east and west banks of the city were experiencing power outages. They said that increases the potential for sewer backups in homes.
“We urge those residents who still have power to minimize wastewater leaving their homes by not running your dishwasher or washing clothes," officials said, adding that the stations will not be back up and running until the storm passes.
Videos coming out of Grand Isle show high water and winds damaging structures Sunday. The town is near the port where the storm made landfall.
And in the iconic French Quarter in New Orleans, part of a roof blew into the street due to the high winds from Ida, The Weather Channel reports.
In Golden Meadow, Louisiana, the winds from Ida ripped roofs off buildings and blew over power lines.