Communities that had been bracing themselves for the floods and physical devastation caused by Category 4 Hurricane Ida, which hit the Gulf Coast on Sunday and is now a tropical storm sweeping through portions of Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, fared better than many had anticipated.
More than a million Louisiana and Mississippi households wake up Tuesday to find themselves in complete darkness after Hurricane Ida’s winds and rains knocked out major portions of the power grid. They now face an ominous prospect: no one knows when the lights will be turned back on in their homes once again.
The threat posed by Ida, according to locals and relief workers, goes well beyond the flooding and scattered debris that have been reported thus far. Following the near-total collapse of the region’s electrical infrastructure, it is possible that the grid may be down for many weeks during the hot summer months in the Southeast. In the absence of more fuel, automobiles will run out of gas and generators will shudder. Cellphone batteries will eventually run out of power. Water treatment systems will fail if they are not connected to a stable power source. Residents are subjected to dangerously high temperatures with no relief.
President Biden said Monday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent more than 200 generators to Louisiana and intends to send more generators. According to him, “we’re doing all we can to reduce the length of time it will take to restore electricity to everyone in the area.”
In the meanwhile, authorities and citizens have reported that a large portion of the state is reliant on generators for electricity. In order to charge smartphones, pick up ice in order to prevent food from deteriorating, or just take some deep breaths of cold air, neighbours are allowing one another inside their houses.