John Bel Edwards had made it clear to its citizens what was in store for them: This was one of the worst storms since 1850 to hit land in Louisiana, said the governor of the American state on the Gulf of Mexico.

Exactly 16 years after Katrina, Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana.

On Monday morning, Edwards described the damage as "catastrophic".

Reconstruction will take weeks and months, he said in an interview with NBC.

The rescue and recovery operations started slowly because so many roads are impassable due to rubble.

He firmly assumes that the death toll will rise "significantly" during the day.

"The damage is really catastrophic."

Majid Sattar

Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.

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The authorities initially confirmed a fatality. "Many still have stagnant water in their homes and need to be rescued," said the governor. He also emphasized that it was very gratifying that the flood protection system in New Orleans, which was built after the destruction by Hurricane "Katrina" in 2005, had held up. "The situation in New Orleans is bad as it is now with no electricity, but it could be so much worse," he said, looking at the protective dams. He hoped that electricity could be restored "soon," at least in parts of New Orleans, Edwards said.

Although the cyclone, which hit land on Sunday afternoon as a level four hurricane, weakened to category three soon after, many citizens on the Gulf Coast and in metropolitan New Orleans were stuck in their flooded homes.

Power went out throughout New Orleans and parts of Louisiana.

The local electricity provider Enerty reported that the supply only runs via emergency power generators.

The New Orleans Sewage and Water Authority, which is responsible for the pumping stations to control the floods, was also supplied with emergency power.

Water up to the roof

Because of the storm and the darkness, the fire brigade and paramedics were often unable to go out to see those seeking help at night. American media reported that in many houses the water was under the roof. Photos and videos showed houses that were under water, streets that swelled into rivers, covered houses and numerous uprooted trees and broken electricity pylons in the coastal areas. For safety reasons, oil production in the region had to be partially shut down.

In the community of Jean Lafitte south of New Orleans, the dikes were breached by the rapidly rising water, as Mayor Tim Kerner reported. "Total devastation, catastrophic, our city dikes have been flooded," said Kerner. Many people took shelter in the attics. Since a vehicle swept away by the water destroyed a bridge, 200 to 300 residents were stuck. "We can't put boats in the water, that would be life-threatening," said the mayor. “We have seen floods and storms before. But I've never seen so much water. ”Several residents of LaPlace, upriver from New Orleans, said they were trapped in rising tides. In Prairieville, 60 miles northwest of New Orleans,a person was killed by a falling tree. This was announced by the sheriff's office.

President Joe Biden, who visited the Fema Disaster Management Agency in Washington on Sunday, immediately released federal aid for affected citizens and for reconstruction. "As soon as the storm passes, we will use all the might in this country to rescue and rebuild," said Biden. Billions of dollars have been invested in flood control in the region since Katrina. Federal agencies provided more than 2,000 specialists, including search teams, as well as water, food, and power generators. Edwards declared a state of emergency because of the hurricane, activated the National Guard with around 5,000 soldiers and mobilized hundreds of salvage experts. In addition, thousands of workers were ready to restore the power supply. The Mayoress of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell,had issued an evacuation order for areas outside the levee and lock system that protects the low-lying city on the Mississippi Delta - but no forced evacuation for the entire city.

Ida raged in New Orleans exactly 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, in which around 1,800 people were killed at the time. The hurricane continued to weaken over the course of Monday night, and the National Hurricane Center, NHC, eventually downgraded it to a tropical storm. Just like the hurricane of 2005, Ida only moved slowly towards Mississippi, the neighboring state of Louisiana, which is why places in the storm path are exposed to wind and extreme rainfall for a long time.

The full extent of the destruction should only become visible in the coming days. The next few days and weeks are "a big challenge," said Governor Edwards. One of the difficulties is that many hospitals are overcrowded with Covid patients. Like Mississippi, Louisiana is one of the hotspots of the Delta variant. In the southern states, the number of unvaccinated people is significantly higher than on the east and west coasts.