The levees held, our power grid did not. Late Sunday evening, as the worst of Ida’s winds barreled through New Orleans, Entergy sent a mass text to all customers …. a catastrophic failure of the power grid resulted in total loss of power across the city. This, unfortunately, included power to the Sewerage & Water Board to pump floodwaters from the streets. Somehow, the backup generators and self-generated power kept the pumps working just enough to prevent massive flooding of property.
The only power in New Orleans is generated power. Hospitals, police and fire stations, EMS, and the media are all running on backup power. The sewer pumps are running on generators. Luckily we still have drinking water, but neighboring Jefferson parish does not. There are no estimates for the time frame to restore power, but we know we are talking in weeks now, not days.
One of the reasons New Orleans is without power. This transmission line that runs across the Mississippi River from Avondale to Harahan had a collapsed tower. Lines are literally in the River. #hurricanida #lawx #neworleans pic.twitter.com/tYzjXkkaAl
— Brian Emfinger (@brianemfinger) August 30, 2021
The 911 emergency system was inoperable for most of the day. New Orleans Public Schools are “closed until further notice”. The Mayor estimates that 200,000 residents stayed in the city. AT&T cellular service has been out all day, making it difficult to get in touch with family members. I finally confirmed that someone made contact with my brother-in-law, who stayed alone in his home, at 2:00pm this afternoon. Anyone who lacks the resources to leave after the streets are cleared faces weeks in 90+ heat with no air conditioning.
The Mayor has asked that residents who evacuated do not return yet. The streets are full of down trees and power lines. We haven’t been able to confirm the status of our house, which is nerve-wracking. We have no reason to assume any major damage, but I worry about a broken window or a leak we are unable to mitigate.
We probably won’t return home for weeks. I already dread cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer. But as they say, New Orleanians are resilient. Our small inconvenience is nothing compared to what many of our neighbors are experiencing right now. I feel helpless sitting 350 miles away, unable to physically do anything to help. But for now, I’ve decided it’s best not to try to use anyone’s precious battery life or cell service by reaching out aimlessly.
For now, we sit in limbo. Air-conditioned, internet connected, lake house, privileged limbo. Thank you to everyone who has reached out. You mean more to me than you could possibly know.