Ida Knocks Out Power To New Orleans

Some customers who were in the direct path of the storm may not get electric service back for weeks.

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Hundreds of thousands of people are without power.

Hurricane Ida blacked out much of southeastern Louisiana, including New Orleans.Credit…Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times

Aug. 30, 2021Updated 11:47 a.m. ET

It will take days just for utility crews to determine the extent of the storm damage to the New Orleans power grid, and far longer to restore power to the region, officials of Entergy Louisiana said on Monday.

“We have a lot of rebuilding ahead of us,” the company said on Twitter. “We’ll be better prepared to give restoration estimates once assessments are done.”

More than 850,000 of its customers in the region lost power, according to Entergy’s outage map, as Hurricane Ida thrashed much of Louisiana Sunday evening, snapping cables, damaging buildings, uprooting trees and spreading debris along roads.

Because of Ida’s “catastrophic intensity,” all eight transmission lines that deliver power to New Orleans were out of service, Entergy officials said on Sunday. The situation caused a load imbalance and resulted in a failure of all power generation in the region.

The city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said that the only power in the city was coming from customers’ own generators.

There were reports of communications problems as well. Telephone service appeared to be out in some of the hardest-hit areas of southeast Louisiana. And there were problems with mobile phone service.

A spokeswoman for Verizon said the company was “still actively assessing the situation on the ground as it is safe to do so.” She added, “While we are seeing sites out of service in the heaviest hit areas, overlapping sites are offering some coverage to residents and first responders who remain there.” Many cell sites were running on backup generators and batteries, she said.

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Residents of Baton Rouge wait outside an open convenience store, after much of the city lost power, on Monday.Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

Verizon said it was providing unlimited calling, texting and data to its customers most affected by Hurricane Ida. AT&T said it was waiving overage charges for customers in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi through Saturday. T-Mobile said on Sunday that most T-Mobile and Sprint customers in the affected area would be offered free talk, text and unlimited data through Friday.

Some utility customers who were in the direct path of the hurricane may not see electric service restored for as long as three weeks, according to Entergy. But 90 percent of customers will have power back sooner, it said.

Requests for comment from Entergy about the hardest hit areas and the next stages of restoration were not immediately answered early Monday.

As the storm swept across the city on Sunday, Entergy said that crews from at least 22 states and Washington, D.C. were joining the recovery effort.

The company said it was working to assess damage and identify a path forward to restore power to areas that could still receive it. It added that it had provided backup generation to the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board.

Including other utilities as well as Entergy, about one million customers in Louisiana were without power early Monday morning, according to reports compiled by PowerOutage.us. Most were in the southeastern part of the state. In Mississippi, about 130,000 customers were reported to be without power, mainly in the southwest, the website said.

Entergy Louisiana warned customers that broken power lines can remain hazardous.

“Just because you can’t see any apparent danger, doesn’t mean there isn’t any,” the company said on Monday. “Downed power lines may still be energized. Keep your distance.”

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