Lots of damage from hurricane Ida, but water barrier has kept it

One day after Hurricane Ida landed in the U.S. state of Louisiana, the damage is absorbed. Buildings have been destroyed and it can take weeks for households around the city of New Orleans to regain power. Stores, businesses and schools will stay closed for the time being. But as much water as it flushed through the streets after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city has been spared.

Its still unclear how many victims have fallen by the hurricane. Officially, the death toll is one, but Governor Edwards takes many more victims into account. He calls people who have been evacuated not to return home yet. โ€œUntil you get a sign that can be safe.โ€

Ida landed last night in Louisiana as one of the most powerful hurricanes ever measured on the US mainland, with winds of around 230 kilometers per hour. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) classified Ida as a category 4 hurricane, the second toughest category.

Weeks without power

That the damage is great, correspondent Lucas Waagmeester also saw in the affected area. โ€œAlong the way we saw a lot of damage and its still blowing quite a bit. The fierce winds wiped out the electricity network in the region. The emergency services and also a million households are without power.โ€

Because there is still power on the overturned power towers, there is a risk that people will be electrocuted.

According to Louisiana Governor Edwards, the storm surge barriers kept it right:

Many buildings have been destroyed, including four hospitals. Roads have also been damaged, making the rescue work difficult.

The power company says it can take at least four to five days for people to regain power in most of Louisiana. Outside the cities, the vital infrastructure can take weeks to rebuild.

First real test

But, the governor says in a speech; the damage is relatively easy. Thats what the city owes to the New Orleans flood defences. After the floods by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, this system was built to protect the city from tidal waves. Hurricane Ida was the first real test for the water defences in New Orleans.

Piet Dircke, director of water management at the Dutch engineering company Arcadis, was closely involved in the construction of the water barrier. โ€œThe city held its breath over the past few hours, but all the reversals have held it. There is almost no damage and all pumps have worked. I am relieved and proud.โ€

The system can withstand waves of seven meters high. โ€œWith four-meter waves, the water has stayed well below that in most places,โ€ says Dircke. Theres still a low tide in the streets, but not nearly as high as in 2005. โ€œThen people drowned in their attic. Thats really a different story right now.โ€