Skip to main content

The remains of a home that burned still smolders in Manville, N.J., on Sept. 5, in the wake of the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Flood-stricken families and business owners across the Northeast are hauling waterlogged belongings to the curb and scraping away noxious mud as cleanup from Ida moves into high gear.Craig Ruttle/The Associated Press

U.S. Southern states still grappling with widespread power outages and water-logged homes after deadly Hurricane Ida faced new flash flood threats on Monday from slow-moving rain and drenching thunderstorms.

Storms capable of producing two to three inches (5-8 cm) of rain “in a pretty short period of time” were saturating New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, and were expected to continue into the evening, said National Weather Service meteorologist Lara Pagano.

The states are struggling to recover after more than a week since Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast, tore a devastating path of destruction and crippled the New Orleans power grid.

The storm claimed at least 13 lives in Louisiana. More than 500,000 customers in the state remained without power on Monday, according to the PowerOutage.us website, which tracks power outages.

“Some of that (rain) will occur over soil that is saturated by Ida, areas that are already sensitive, with any additional heavy rain problematic and leading to flash flooding,” Pagano said.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday said it was probing nearly 350 reports of oil spills in and along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Ida.

President Joe Biden has approved disaster declarations for Louisiana, which he visited on Friday, as well as for New York and New Jersey, where he will travel on Tuesday.

The declarations qualify the states for federal assistance for repairs and rebuilding after the intense flooding that also killed dozens in the U.S. Northeast.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Ida caused more than $50 million in damage in that state after the storm’s record-breaking rainfall of 3.1 inches (7.8 cm) per hour on Wednesday, recorded in New York City’s Central Park, sent walls of water cascading through businesses, public transportation systems and 1,200 homes.

Hochul said she had directed that $378 million in previously awarded hazard mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency be devoted to supporting New York’s infrastructure against extreme weather.

Biden will travel to Manville, New Jersey, and the Queens borough of New York City on Tuesday to assess damage from Ida.

New York had 17 confirmed deaths from Ida, four in suburban Westchester County and the rest in New York City. In New Jersey, there were at least 27 confirmed storm deaths and four people missing, a governor’s spokesperson said.

Another large storm, Hurricane Larry, churned on Monday about 715 miles (1,150 km) off the Northern Leeward Islands.

Predicted to remain out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean, Larry was expected to cause “significant swells” along the U.S. East Coast from midweek until the weekend, Pagano said.

“These swells will likely cause life-threatening surf and rip-conditions so beach-goers are urged to follow the guidance of lifeguards and local officials,” Pagano said.

Oil spills

The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday said it was probing nearly 350 reports of oil spills in and along the U.S. Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida’s 150 mile per hour (240 kph) winds wreaked havoc on offshore oil production platforms and onshore oil and gas processing plants. About 88 per cent of the region’s offshore oil production remains shut and more than 100 platforms unoccupied after the storm made landfall Aug. 29.

The Coast Guard has been conducting flyovers off the coast of Louisiana looking for spills. It is providing information to federal, state and local authorities responsible for cleaning the sites.

Flights on Sunday found evidence of a new leak from an offshore well and reported another leak responsible for a miles-long streak of oil was no longer active. A third report of oil near a drilling platform could not be confirmed, it said.

Offshore oil producer Talos Energy Inc, which hired divers and a cleanup crew to respond to an oil spill in Bay Marchand, said old pipelines damaged during the storm were apparently responsible for the visible streak.

The spill off the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, had decreased substantially since it was first discovered last week, Talos said. The company is not the owner of the pipelines and had ceased operations in the area four years ago, said spokesman Brian L. Grove.

An offshore well belonging to S2 Energy was discharging oil about five miles (8 km) away from the Bay Marchand site, the Coast Guard said. The company told the Coast Guard it has secured the wellhead and it was no longer discharging oil.

S2 did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) said it is working with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require companies responsible for any spills to halt and clean up the discharges.

“If necessary USCG and/or the EPA can open federal funding streams to cover mitigation costs,” LDEQ said.

The EPA also said it was working with LDEQ and the Coast Guard.

“EPA has received 39 reports relative to the Hurricane in our Area Of Responsibility and has been evaluating those reports and following up with responsible parties to ensure they are being addressed,” the agency said in a statement.

With files from Arpan Varghese, Kanishka Singh, Gary McWilliams and Stephanie Kelly

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

Report an error