Hurricane Ida Batters Louisiana, Leaves New Orleans In Darkness

A truck is seen in heavy winds and rain from hurricane Ida in Bourg, Louisiana on August 29, 2021. Hurricane Ida struck the coast of Louisiana Sunday as a powerful Category 4 storm, 16 years to the day after deadly Hurricane Katrina devastated the southern US city of New Orleans.”Extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Ida makes landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in an advisory.
Mark Felix / AFP

 

 

Powerful Hurricane Ida battered the southern US state of Louisiana and plunged New Orleans into darkness Sunday, leaving at least one person dead 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

Ida slammed into the Louisiana coast as a Category 4 storm but had weakened to a Category 1 by early Monday.

The storm knocked out power for all of New Orleans, with more than a million customers across Louisiana without power, according to outage tracker PowerOutage.US.

“We have now lost power, citywide! This is the time to continue to remain in your safe places. It isn’t a time to venture out!!,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said on Twitter.

Electricity provider Entergy said it was providing backup power to New Orleans Sewage and Water Board, which operates the pumping stations used to control flooding.

The National Weather Service issued warnings of storm surges and flash floods for several areas, including the town of Jean Lafitte, just south of New Orleans, where mayor Tim Kerner said the levees had been breached by rapidly rising waters.

“Total devastation, catastrophic, our town levees have been overtopped,” Kerner told ABC-affiliate WGNO.

“We have anywhere between 75 to 200 people stranded in Barataria,” after a barge took out the swing bridge to the island.

“The winds are still too strong, we can’t put boats in the water to get to them,” he told WGNO.

“We have a small group trying to take out the people in the most imminent danger,” Kerner said. “This is a very dangerous situation. I’ve never seen so much water in my life.”

President Joe Biden, who described Ida as “a life-threatening storm,” declared a major disaster for Louisiana, which gives it access to federal aid.

One person was killed by a falling tree in Prairieville, 60 miles northwest of New Orleans, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said.

Throughout the morning showers and strong wind swept the city’s deserted streets, buffeting boarded-up windows at businesses and homes surrounded by sandbags.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Ida could be the most powerful storm to hit the state since 1850.

“There is no doubt that the coming days and weeks are going to be extremely difficult,” he said at a briefing Sunday, adding that some people might have to shelter in place for up to 72 hours.

“Find the safest place in your house and stay there until the storm passes,” he tweeted earlier.

‘Not sure if I’m prepared’

Rain batters N Peters Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, with St. Louis Cathedral visible in the distance (back L) on August 29, 2021, after Hurricane Ida made landfall. Ida made landfall as “an extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm in Louisiana on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. 
Patrick T. FALLON / AFP

 

 

Most residents had heeded warnings of catastrophic damage and authorities’ instructions to flee.

In one neighborhood in eastern New Orleans, a few residents were completing preparations just hours before landfall.

“I’m not sure if I’m prepared,” said Charles Fields, who was bringing his garden furniture indoors, “but we just have to ride it.”

“We’ll see how it holds up,” added the 60-year-old, who in 2005 saw Hurricane Katrina flood his house with 11 feet (3.3 meters) of water.

 

‘Very serious test’

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – AUGUST 29: Vehicles are damaged after the front of a building collapsed during Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ida made landfall earlier today southwest of New Orleans. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP
SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

Governor Edwards warned on Sunday that Ida would be “a very serious test for our levee systems,” an extensive network of pumps, gates, and earthen and concrete berms that was expanded after Katrina.

He told CNN that hundreds of thousands of residents were believed to have evacuated.

The storm “presents some very challenging difficulties for us, with the hospitals being so full of Covid patients,” he said.

With a low rate of vaccination, Louisiana is among the states hit hardest by the pandemic, severely stressing hospitals.

Hospitalizations, at 2,700 on Saturday, are near their pandemic high.

The memory of Katrina, which made landfall on August 29, 2005, is still fresh in Louisiana, where it caused some 1,800 deaths and billions of dollars in damage.

Rainfall of 10 to 18 inches (25 to 46 centimeters) is expected in parts of southern Louisiana through Monday, with up to 24 inches in some areas.

As of 1:00 am Monday, the storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and was expected to continue weakening as it moves over land, with a predicted track taking it north over the central United States before veering eastward, reaching the mid-Atlantic region by Wednesday.

The White House said Sunday that federal agencies had deployed more than 2,000 emergency workers to the region — including 13 urban search-and-rescue teams — along with food and water supplies and electric generators.

Local authorities, the Red Cross and other organizations have prepared dozens of shelters with room for at least 16,000 people, the White House added.

Scientists have warned of a rise in cyclone activity as the ocean surface warms due to climate change, posing an increasing threat to the world’s coastal communities.

-AFP

Two Killed In U.S. Campus Shooting

The shooting took place around midnight outside a dormitory at Grambling State University, a historically black public institution in the northern part of the state. Photo: AFP file

A gunman shot to death a student and his friend early Wednesday on a university campus in Louisiana, and then fled, officials said.

The shooting took place around midnight outside a dormitory at Grambling State University, a historically black public institution in the northern part of the state.

Grambling spokesman Will Sutton told AFP the victims were identified as Grambling student Earl Andrews, 23, and his friend Monquiarious Caldwell, 23, both of Farmerville, Louisiana.

Caldwell was not a student at the school.

“No one else (was) hurt,” Sutton added.

The Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the shooting reportedly began after an altercation that began inside one of the dorms.

Classes and business were due to take place as usual.

“Grambling State University offices are open with normal business hours and students are expected to attend classes as schedule,” the school announced on Twitter.

The university is currently celebrating its homecoming season, with an American football game at which alumni are invited due to take place Saturday.

AFP

Harvey Hits Louisiana As Texas Rescuers Race Against Clock

Monster storm Harvey made landfall again on Wednesday in Louisiana, evoking painful memories of Hurricane Katrina’s deadly strike 12 years ago, as time was running out in Texas to find survivors in the raging floodwaters.

The fresh hit comes five days after the monster storm slammed onshore as a Category Four hurricane, pummeling the US Gulf Coast with torrential rains that turned neighborhoods into lakes in America’s fourth largest city, Houston.

While Harvey is technically packing less of a wallop as a tropical storm, heavy rains are still drenching parts of southeastern Texas and neighboring southwestern Louisiana, complicating rescue missions and compounding the misery for millions of Americans.

So far, only a handful of deaths have been formally confirmed, but when combined with suspected deaths, US media reported that the toll could be 30 so far and still rising as floodwaters recede in some areas and bodies are found.

Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, though officials stress they may simply have no access to phones or power.

More than 30,000 people found refuge in shelters across the Lone Star State, from the giant Houston convention center to small churches, according to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Brock Long.

“We are in this for the long haul,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke told reporters in a Wednesday briefing on emergency operations.

“We’ll continue to support the people of Texas as long as necessary.”

In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner issued an nighttime curfew aimed at aiding search efforts and thwarting potential looting in the flood-ravaged city.

At least a quarter of Harris County, which includes Houston and the immediate surrounding area, is now under water, affecting tens of thousands of homes, local officials have said.

“After witnessing first hand the horror & devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, my heart goes out even more so to the great people of Texas!” President Donald Trump said after visiting the storm zone.

Trump was planning a second trip to Texas on Saturday, and may go to Louisiana as well, the White House said.

Drenching rain

So far, parts of Texas have seen more than 50 inches (1.27 meters) of rain, while in Louisiana, the top total 18 inches so far — was increasing.

Harvey made its second landfall just west of the Louisiana town of Cameron, not far from the Texas border, packing maximum sustained winds nearing 45 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

Forecasters are predicting another five to 10 inches of rain in the region, with the downpour finally expected to stop on Thursday.

For now, southwestern Louisiana was taking the hardest hit, but New Orleans proper appeared to have dodged a bullet, with minimal rain.

The arrival of the storm was nevertheless bittersweet for many in New Orleans, coming just one day after the 12-year anniversary of Katrina, which ravaged the vulnerable city famous for its jazz music and cuisine.

“I began to pray for the people in Texas after having gone through that same experience myself as a Katrina survivor,” said Crystal Harris, who works for the Second Harvest Food Bank, which was taking donations for storm victims.

“It brings back memories,” she said. “When you see images like… Houston, it reminds you of where you were 12 years ago.”

Rescue teams scrambling

In Texas, emergency crews were still struggling to reach hundreds of stranded people in a massive round-the-clock rescue operation, as the National Weather Service predicted weather conditions there were to improve at last.

But the damage wrought was staggering — Enki Research put its “best estimate” at between $48 billion and $75 billion.

Sheryl Kunai, a 57-year-old accountant from Rosenberg, southwest of Houston, left her home and was staying at a hotel in Winnie. She said her home was fine, but she was wary about heading back.

“I still don’t want to chance it. I’ll just go ahead and give it one more day,” she told AFP. “I’m more scared about driving in the water than anything else.”

At least one bridge had crumbled, one levee had breached and dams were at risk in Texas.

A Houston police officer was one of the latest confirmed victims of the storm — the body of Steve Perez, who went missing after reporting for duty in the early hours of Sunday, was recovered by divers on Tuesday.

‘Overwhelming’ 

The US Gulf Coast is a major hub of America’s oil industry, accounting for 20 percent of the country’s crude production.

Harvey sparked the closure of several major refineries. Many rigs were also knocked out. On Wednesday, crude prices were down at the opening in New York.

Residents living around a chemical plant in the county that includes Houston were evacuated as a precaution over fears that some of the chemicals at the facility — which produces organic peroxides — might react or cause an explosion.

Highways were swamped and homes were rendered uninhabitable across Houston, a city of 2.3 million people, and its wider metropolitan area of six million.

Federal officials estimate up to half a million people in Texas will ultimately require some form of assistance.

“Recovery is a slow process,” Long, the FEMA chief, said Tuesday as he welcomed Trump to Corpus Christi.

“We’ve got a long way to go.”

AFP

Baton Rouge: Gunman’s Motive Remains Unclear

baton rogueAuthorities sought to learn more on Monday about a decorated ex-U.S. Marine sergeant who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, some weeks after police there shot dead a black man, sparking nationwide protests including one shattered by the massacre of five Dallas policemen.

The suspect in the latest case, dressed in black and armed with a rifle, was shot dead on Sunday morning in a gunfight with police who converged on the scene of a confrontation that Mayor Kip Holden said began as an ambush.

Two Baton Rouge Police Department officers and one sheriff’s deputy were killed and one sheriff’s deputy was critically wounded. Another officer and one other deputy suffered less severe wounds.

Police did not identify the suspect but a U.S. government official told Reuters he was Gavin Long, of Kansas City, Missouri. Long, who was black, was reported to have attacked police on his 29th birthday.

“It’s hard to know what his motivations were,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told MSNBC reporters on Monday. A news conference was scheduled for 2 p.m. to discuss the shooter, Edwards said.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in remarks prepared for a conference of black law enforcement officers, condemned the Baton Rouge attack “in the strongest terms possible” and said agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies were in the city to help local authorities.

Colonel Mike Edmonson, superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, told a news conference the gunman was believed to have acted alone.

It was not immediately clear whether there was a link between the bloodshed and unrest over the police killings of two black men in questionable circumstances this month – Alton Sterling, 37, in Baton Rouge on July 5, and Philando Castile, 32, near St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 6.

Gunman Kills Three Police Officers In Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Baton RougeTragedy has struck again in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as three police officers were killed and three more injured in a shooting.

Police have been able to gun down one suspect, but warn there may be two others in hiding.

They are also warning people to stay away from the scene of the shooting, which is close to the police headquarters and a highway.

The local sheriff’s department spokesperson said that the incident happened shortly before 9am, local time, and was being treated as an active situation, with road closures in the area.

It was not immediately clear whether there was a link between the shootings and the recent unrest over the police killings of black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.

Authorities did not give any information about the gunman’s possible motive.

President Barack Obama condemned the “attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge” and vowed that justice would be done.

“We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear: There is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None. These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one,” Obama said in a statement.

The Louisiana State Governor, John Bel Edwards, has condemned the attack, but has promised the perpetrators would be brought to justice.

Obama Urges Unity Amid Racial Tensions

Barack Obama, Brexit, UK, U.S.The President of the United States of America (USA), Barack Obama has urged police and black communities to live in peace amid the racial tensions in the country.

Mr Obama said this at a town hall meeting on race and policing organized by ABC news.

He stated that all citizens need to come together and advised it should not be “US versus them”.

He explained that the dialogue between both sides will go a long way to help resolve the issues.

The meeting came after a gunman killed five Dallas police at a ‘black lives matter’ protest last week.

An Army veteran, Micah Xavier Johnson, told police he was angry after recent shooting deaths of black men at the hands of officers.

Several people have been killed in the recent shootings including; Alton Sterling who was killed by Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 5.

A day later, Philando Castile was also shot and killed during a traffic stop outside Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Protests Spread Over US Police Shootings

US Police,Minnesota, LouisianaProtests against the killing of black men by Police have continued to spread across cities of the United States, following recent deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana.

Armed new black panther party members confronted Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana while in Minnesota, roads were blocked as fireworks, bottles and rocks were thrown at Police officials.

Dozens of arrests have been, made but the rallies were mostly peaceful.

In Dallas where five officers were killed by a black man during a protest rally, the situation remains tense.

BBC says security levels were raised at the Police Headquarters after anonymous threats were received.

However, an all clear was given after a search of a car park for a “suspicious person”.

The protests against police killings were sparked by the deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.

US Election: Trump Seeks One-On-One Battle With Cruz

TrumpUS Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, has expressed willingness to battle Ted Cruz one-on-one.

Subsequent to the American billionaire’s statement, he made an appeal to other rivals to quit the nomination race.

BBC says that Mr Trump told a news conference after wins in the Republican Kentucky caucuses and Louisiana primary election that “I would love to take on Ted Cruz one on one”.

Mr Cruz on his part, also suggested that it was time for other contenders, like Marco Rubio and John Kasich, to step aside.

He said that as long as the field remains divided, it gives the US Republican presidential front-runner an advantage.

Mr Trump and Mr Cruz won two states each in Saturday’s voting.

In the democratic race, while Mr Bernie Sanders took two states, Mrs Hillary Clinton maintained her front-runner status after a big victory in Louisiana.

US Election 2016: Republican Ben Carson Ends Campaign

Ben CarsonUS Republican, Ben Carson, has withdrawn his bid to emerge as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2016 election.

Mr Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, had been a front-runner, but his campaign stalled in recent months after he performed badly on foreign affairs and questions about his background story.

He has not said which of the remaining four candidates he plans to endorse in the race for the republican nomination.

Mr Carson had earned only eight delegates before his decision to drop out from the nomination race.

Republicans in four states – Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine – would go to the polls on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Carson was announced as a new Chairman of My Faith Votes – a group set up to encourage Christians to vote in elections.

Mr Carson had a poor upbringing in Detroit but made it to Yale before a brilliant medical career.

Gunman Kills Two, Injures Seven In Louisiana Cinema

Louisiana cinemaA lone gunman has killed two people, injured seven others before shooting himself inside a crowded movie cinema in Lafayette, Louisiana, on Thursday evening.

The gunfire erupted during a 7 p.m. show of the film “Trainwreck” and took place almost three years to the day after a massacre at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, that killed 12 people.

Lafayette Police, said two people died in the hail of bullets before the 58-year-old suspect killed himself with a handgun, as officers rushed to the scene shortly after 7:30 p.m.

“There were about 100 people inside the cinema at the time of the shooting,” a police official said.

Seven people were wounded with injuries ranging from non-life-threatening to critical.

A witness, Tanya Clark, told Sky News that she had been buying popcorn when a group of people ran out of the cinema telling everyone to run.

She added: “I thought it was just teenagers playing a little prank, you know, and then I saw a whole other bigger group coming out screaming the same thing”.

“And then we saw a lady with blood all over her leg. I just grabbed my child and ran”.

Authorities said they knew the gunman’s identity but were not releasing his name during the early stage of the investigation. They offered no immediate motive and did not disclose any clues they might have found.

Police officials said that bomb-sniffing dogs had alerted on a backpack inside the cinema and that they had also signalled “suspicious” items inside the suspect’s car. A robot was being used to probe the vehicle further.

Investigators also headed to the gunman’s home. His body remained inside the cinema several hours later. None of the victims, who were described as ranging in age from teens to early 60s, were immediately identified by authorities.

Witnesses said the gunman abruptly stood up in the darkness of the cinema about 20 minutes into the movie and began shooting.

Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, said: “There’s no good reason why this type of evil should intrude on the lives of people who are just out for entertainment.”

“As governor, as a father and as a husband, whenever we hear about these senseless acts of violence it makes us both furious and sad at the same time”.

Jindal added that two of the wounded victims were teachers and one of them managed to pull a fire alarm in the cinema after being shot.

Obama declares state of emergency on areas affected by storm

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, following the Storm Isaac that threatened to hit the area.

According to the BBC reports, Isaac is heading for New Orleans, possibly as early as Tuesday night, nearly seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

Isaac killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The storm also caused flooding and damage in the Caribbean.

Late on Monday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) warned Isaac could reach category two strength, with top winds of 100mph (160km/h). The forecast was revised up from category one.

President Obama approved Louisiana’s request for a federal disaster declaration, making available federal funds for recovery activities such as clearing debris.

The governors of Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama declared emergencies in their states.

The Republican governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi have cancelled their trips to their party’s convention to focus on disaster prevention efforts.

The weather officials warned that Isaac is already a large storm and could bring significant damage to areas within hundreds of miles of its center.

The NHC said that at 20:00 EDT (20:00 GMT) on Monday, Isaac was centered about 230 miles (370km) south-east of the mouth of the Mississippi river, with maximum sustained wind speeds of 70mph (110km/h).

The storm is moving forward at about 10mph and storm winds extend out about 205 miles from the center.

The NHC warned that wind speeds could reach between 96-110mph before the storm makes landfall.

Evacuations have already been ordered for some low-lying Louisiana parishes and parts of coastal Alabama.

Wednesday will be the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which strengthened in the Gulf to a category five storm, before weakening to category three by the time it reached New Orleans.

Federal officials said the levees around New Orleans are now equipped to handle storms stronger than Isaac.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, “It’s a much more robust system than what it was when Katrina came ashore,”

Fugate also said that Isaac was not just a New Orleans storm.

“This is a Gulf Coast storm. Some of the heaviest impact may be in Alabama and Mississippi,” he said.

Vehicles were left at New Orleans on the highway heading west for Baton Rouge on Monday, as people made their way to higher ground.

A hurricane warning is already in effect for some 300 miles of the Gulf Coast in four states from Louisiana to Florida, with lower-level warnings issued for many areas along Florida’s west coast.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida said 60,000 people were already without power as a result of the storm.