Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday in southern Louisiana as a ferocious Category 4 storm, tearing roofs from a hospital and homes, flooding roads and sending ferries adrift.
There was a report of one fatality in Prairieville after a victim was apparently struck by a falling tree, the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told reporters earlier Sunday that the only road into Grand Isle, a barrier island south of New Orleans that is home to less 1,000 people, was under six feet of water. The local fire station was flooded, she said, and a few dozen people appeared to have disregarded a mandatory evacuation order.
“The conditions are very, very bad,” she said. “They are really getting beaten up right now.”
Images posted on Facebook by someone who appeared to be riding out the storm in Grand Isle showed roads topped with white-capped waves and a parking lot submerged in water.
“Pray for us all,” the person wrote.
The National Hurricane Center described Ida’s storm surge as “catastrophic” and said it could measure as much as 16 feet at Port Fourchon, where it made landfall shortly before noon.
Elsewhere in southern Louisiana, the quick rise in sea level was expected to be less, the center said. But security camera video from a fire station in St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans, showed what was still a dramatic surge of water.
The storm made landfall with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, and video and photos from areas in and around New Orleans showed roofs that had been ripped from buildings and, in one case, tossed down the road into a power line.
In Galliano, southwest of New Orleans, top sections of the Lady of the Sea Hospital could also be seen getting hurled from the building.
In St. Rose, just west of downtown New Orleans, a boat collision was captured on camera. A barge crashed into a bridge in Jefferson Parish, making it structurally unsafe, officials there said. It was one of more than a dozen examples in the region of what a spokesman with the U.S. Coast Guard’s local office described as “breakaway barges.”
Ferries were also seen drifting in the area, NBC affiliate WDSU of New Orleans reported.
In one instance, the regional transit authority told the station that the vessel had detached from a barge and run aground.
In St. Bernard Parish, where the Chalmette ferry could be seen floating upriver, parish president Guy McInnis told the station: “Nothing we can do at this point.”
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.