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Ida weakens to tropical storm as it moves to Mississippi

Hurricane forecasters downgraded Ida to a tropical storm Monday morning but are still warning of dangerous storm surges and heavy rainfall in multiple states.

The storm weakened 16 hours after Ida made landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane. Ida battered Louisiana into Monday, with reports of downed power lines, levee failures and flooding, collapsed buildings and trapped residents on rooftops.

Forecasters warned that flooding from storm surges will continue through Monday in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. As Ida's center moves into southwestern Mississippi, damaging winds could cause more power outages. Heavy rainfall is possible through Tuesday morning across Mississippi, the Tennessee Valley and, ultimately, the Mid-Atlantic.

Flooding could also hit portions of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys and the Mid-Atlantic through Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell expressed relief that the worst-case scenario in New Orleans did not come to pass because of Ida, but she urged evacuees to remain out of the city until further notice.

"We did not have another Katrina," Cantrell said during a Monday afternoon news conference.

Ida weakens to tropical storm as it moves to Mississippi

Cantrell said officials believe that one person drowned, but she said confirmation and additional details would come from the coroner's office.

"So far, we have not had reports of massive loss of life, but we did have a tragedy, and one is too many," she said.

She implored those who evacuated from New Orleans to stay out of the city until it is safe to return.

"While we held the line, no doubt about that - now is not the time for reentry," Cantrell said.

She said city officials are "only at the beginning of that process determining what the actual impacts have been across the city of New Orleans. City agencies have been out since daybreak; they're going block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. No one will be left out. No one has been left out."

Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said there is widespread debris blocking roadways, trees and power lines downed and damage to structures. "Just because the weather has passed, that does not guarantee that it's safe to be out walking around," Arnold said.

"If you evacuated from the city, take a breath - we're doing good here, we're doing well, under the circumstances. But it's not the time to return," he said. "There's not a lot open right now. There's not a lot of fuel resources. There's not a lot of reason to come back, and I want to add with covid, if you get hurt … hospitals are strained right now, so it's not a good time if you're out of the area to come back."

President Joe Biden on Monday detailed the federal government's efforts to aid those affected by Ida, including the deployment of more than 200 generators and "millions" of meals and gallons of drinking water.

"We're in close contact with local electric providers to see what they need. They're all private providers; we don't control that, but we're doing all we can to minimize the amount of time it's going to take to get power back up for everyone in the region," Biden said during a virtual meeting with Deanne Criswell, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, and officials in the affected states.

The president also noted that he has asked the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to make available any satellite imagery that could be helpful in assessing the damage.

Published : August 31, 2021