In New Orleans, power outages will likely last weeks. That means more hunger, more loss for restaurants, and disruption in agricultural exports.
Hurricane Ida has come and gone—but leaves behind lasting damage in New Orleans, where hundreds of thousands of residents may be without power for weeks. That means dormant kitchens, unbearably hot homes, refrigerators full of rot, and struggles to eat. Getting the power grid up and running is crucial for households, restaurants, and the city’s port, an important hub for moving agricultural commodities to and from the Gulf. The owner of MoPho, a restaurant in the mid-city area, expects to lose more than $240,000 in spoiled ingredients between that Southeast Asian-inspired spot and its sister eatery. Donald Link of Herbsaint and other restaurants thinks two weeks of closures could cost more than a million bucks. Some restaurants that do have power jumped into action to cook all the ingredients they had on hand, offer food to the community, or donate to food pantries. But there are other worries about infrastructure, including keeping a clean, safe water supply. With the port of New Orleans closed indefinitely, soybean and corn growers are anxious, especially because it’s high noon for the corn harvest. As one industry source said, “Sixty-one percent of U.S. soybean exports and 58 percent of corn exports depart from export facilities along the lower Mississippi River in the New Orleans area.” What happens in NOLA doesn’t just stay in NOLA.