The Sewerage & Water Board says they got us. 96 of 99 pumps are on line. Turbine 5, not the dreaded Turbine 4, is running the show. And it will be able to energize the pumps throughout the duration of the storm, as long as there’s power. Notice that phrase “as long as there’s power.” All eyes turn to Entergy.
@Entergy is not making any promises. Hurricane Ida is projected to make landfall as a category 4 storm, so there will be outages. But an Entergy spokesman said that Entergy would respond to their customer’s needs as best as they can.
A reporter asks the mayor if the pumps have backup generators in the case of a power outage. The mayor says, yes. The reporter asks if the generators can power all the pumps throughout the storm. There’s a pause. The mayor eventually says, no they can’t. If the power was to go out, the S&WB would have to decide which pumps to generate based on the area that has the most water. Translation: if the power goes out, the city can’t guarantee there won’t be flooding.
Ida strengthens and develops a strong eyewall. The city is eerily quiet as the sun goes down. Bird chirps echo throughout the neighborhood absent the sounds of cars and people.
We learn our colors. Red is bad. Red means that you’re in an area susceptible to the worst of the storm surge. On parts of the Northshore, that could mean a surge of close to 8 feet. As Margaret Orr emphasized, that’s 8 feet above ground, as in 8 feet over your head.
White is good though. New Orleans is in white. After Hurricane Katrina, the federal government spent close to $15 billion building an intricate levee protection system designed to prevent a Katrina like storm surge (think red) from ever flooding the city again.
The system consists of of a surrounding string of floodgates, levees, canals, and a surge barrier built to withstand a surge of 30ft. That’s well over Ida’s projected maximum surge of 15ft. But not all of the area is protected equally.
Parts of the Westbank, for example, have levees that are vulnerable. They weren’t built to withstand major surges. This was done to prevent a total system failure in extreme cases, like this one. The system can only hold back so much water. The lower built levees act as a pressure release. They allow water in to relieve pressure. That’s great if you live in the metro area. That’s not so great otherwise.
RELATED: Flood Protection is Critical
Ida flares to a projected Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 155mph when it makes landfall near Houma. The meteorologist on WDSU starts shaking when that news breaks.
The metro area is projected to have 80-90mph winds. We’re guaranteed power outages. For how long, Entergy can’t say. That’s bad news for businesses already on life support due to COVID. That’s bad news for all who have to sit in their houses and suffer through the heat.
Later Sunday Morning
The outer bands start to move in. The wind picks up. Rain whips up the street. Heavier rainfall is on the way. There are still people out walking their dogs. Most of us, though, sit inside doing the only thing we can do at this point – wait. We wait, knowing we have a levee system built to prevent water from coming in. But we still have a drainage system not guaranteed to pump rain water out. Interesting times. The city will see what it’s levee protection system is all about.
Total power loss across Orleans Parish. Entergy said: Due to catastrophic transmission damage, all of Orleans Parish is without power. Ida’s eye wall tore shingles off multiple roofs. Rain is dumped in huge amounts. At publish time only local street flooding occurred, but the concern for inundating rain causing more severe flooding was widely reported. Power outages by Entergy downed multiple SWB lift pumping stations. With up to 15 inches of rain predicted, catastrophic citywide flooding is a scary possibility. This could be a hellish night! We will update you in the morning.