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Days after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, energy company Entergy can’t say when New Orleans residents will get power back. In addition to the direct health harms that can come from losing AC when the heat index is over 100, the lack of power has also made it harder to fully assess how much toxic pollution was caused by the storm. One source of pollution that’s certain: the Norco, LA Shell plant in the petrochemical area known as “Cancer Alley” has been spewing dark plumes of smoke since the storm made landfall.
Why This Matters: Ida is the latest hurricane to amplify the risk of oil and gas production. The day-to-day harms people living near these facilities face are only increased by more powerful storms—made more intense by very fossil fuels processed there. Louisiana’s coastline is dotted with large industrial facilities, and the Shell plant wasn’t the only one giving off flare fires this week. Past major storms have had similar harmful impacts: Hurricane Harvey caused 40 plants to send about 5.5 million pounds of pollutants into the air. On the road to closing fossil fuel facilities down, better climate disaster planning could help save lives.
Levees, Floodwalls, Mangroves
Sixteen years after the levee system failed during Hurricane Katrina, the new storm surge protection system of pumps and seawalls passed the test during Hurricane Ida. Still, New Orleans shouldn’t be complacent about future storms. As Tulane University history professor Andy Horowitz told the AP:
“It does not mean that the lesson of Hurricane Ida is that metropolitan New Orleans has adequate hurricane protection. It means it had adequate protection against this storm surge. As the system is challenged by stronger and more frequent hurricanes, I think many experts are very concerned about the rather low level of protection that New Orleans has.”
There are also nature-based solutions to future storm impacts. Wetlands blunted Hurricane Ida’s impact by dissipating storm energy while also slowing erosion. Although the restoration work hasn’t kept pace with the land loss tied to the Mississippi River, the state has restored or created miles of marshland and barrier island.
Flooding Damage Extends Up the East Coast
As the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved north, historical flooding filled streets in the Northeast. At least 40 people have died due to the storm that came just two weeks after Henri, and it has highlighted infrastructure not ready for the changing climate. In New York City, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the entire city for the first time. A record 3.15 inches of rain fell in Central Park in a single hour, breaking the likely prior record set during Henri.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer After a record-breaking drought, much of the West and Southwest has been hoping for a winter of rain. But with scientists predicting a second consecutive winter with La Niña conditions, the dry spell may be prolonged. La Niña is a climate pattern that tends to produce droughts in the […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As California’s summer fire season comes to a close, autumn’s Santa Ana winds have intensified a fast-moving wildfire now terrorizing Santa Barbara County. The Alisal fire began Monday afternoon. Since then, it has engulfed 16,801 acres and is only 5% contained, according to CalFire. As a result, a portion […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor According to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there have been 18 billion-dollar weather disasters in 2021, surpassing 2020’s disaster costs with almost three months still left until 2022. Experts say that weather events across the spectrum, including wildfires, hurricanes, and severe weather, are not […]
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