Biden declares major disaster after storm lashes Louisiana

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New Orleans

US President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Louisiana and ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Ida, the White House said on Sunday.

“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” the White House said.

Hurricane Ida, making landfall as a fierce Category 4 storm, plowed into Louisiana from the Gulf Mexico on Sunday knocking out power for hundreds of thousands, lashing the coast with 150 mile-per-hour winds, torrential downpours and pounding surf that submerged much of the shoreline under several feet of water.

All of New Orleans, Louisiana’s most populous city, had power knocked out due to “catastrophic transmission damage,” the local utility reported, hours after flash-flood warnings were posted.

Sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Ida slammed ashore around noon near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, a hub of the Gulf’s offshore energy industry, blasting the coast with hurricane-force winds extending 50 miles (80 km) out from the eye of the storm.

Residents of the most vulnerable coastal areas were ordered to evacuate days in advance. But those riding out the storm in their homes in New Orleans, less than 100 miles inland to the north, braced for the toughest test yet of major upgrades to a levee system constructed following devastating floods in 2005 from Katrina.

“I almost found myself in a panic attack when news announced this was the anniversary of Katrina,” Janet Rucker, a lifelong New Orleans resident and recently retired sales manager who took shelter in a downtown hotel with her dog, Deuce. “This is just not good for our nerves and our psyche.”— Reuters

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