Hurricane Ida may have moved on, but the web of problems the powerful hurricane left behind after striking southern Louisiana remain. In many of the hardest-hit communities, access to power, air conditioning, and gas remains a challenge.


Large numbers of homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Some key roads and bridges are out, and returning residents are facing curfews and boil water warnings.

Five days after catastrophic storm surge, winds, and downpours pummeled the Mississippi River Delta, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired imagery of the storm-damaged region. The false-color images above show a portion of far southern Louisiana, including the Barataria Basin and Breton Sound, on September 19, 2015 (left) and September 3, 2021 (right). While Landsat 8 collects new imagery of this area every two weeks, more recent images from 2016-2020 had significant cloud cover.

The image combines red, near-infrared, and short-wave infrared wavelengths (bands 5-4-3) to make it easier to distinguish between water (dark blue) and vegetation (green). Water with more suspended sediment appears lighter blue. The suspended sediment looks brown in the natural-color version of the same image (below).

Five days after the storm, many water bodies were still discolored by sediment stirred up by rain and floods. Floodwaters still swamped areas along many rivers, coasts, and lakes. Damaged or missing marsh vegetation left large patches of open water, especially in parts of the Lafourche, Jefferson, and Plaquemines parishes. The image below shows a more detailed view of an area in Lafourche Parish near Larose. The large rectangular feature is a low-lying farm built on reclaimed land and protected by a levee and pumping system. (Check Worldview to see a cloudier pair of images that show marshes in this area before Ida hit in August 2021 compared to after the storm in September 2021.)

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