The mighty Hurricane Ida arrived in Louisiana, off the coast of the United States, with a Category 4 power, just one below the maximum possible. The phenomenon has put on alert all authorities, both state and federal, who consider it the strongest to hit this southern US state in more than a century, since the 1850s. Ida revived the fear left by Katrina, which razed Louisiana exactly 16 years ago. Heavy rains and winds, as well as warnings from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) that the hurricane is “extremely dangerous,” have sparked panic and mass evacuations. Traffic was heavy out of New Orleans and other cities after the official appeal for residents to flee or seek shelter. “The devastation will likely be immense,” warned President Joe Biden, who also urged people to prepare for a long time without electricity. “It can take a long time for the service to recover, it can take weeks in some places,” he added.
“Catastrophic damage could occur as the Ida center is moving along Louisiana’s southeast coast over the next few hours,” warned the NHC this Sunday morning. According to forecasts, the hurricane will bring “extremely life-threatening” storm waves, which, combined with high tide, could cause the flooding of areas near the coast and the overflow of local dykes.
The National Hurricane Center added that throughout the day “hurricane force winds and destructive gusts” are expected, which will intensify overnight from Sunday to Monday. “These winds can cause great damage to trees and interruptions in the supply of electricity”, he warned. This Sunday morning, local media reported that there were already some areas without electricity.
“A prolonged power cut is almost certain,” New Orleans security director Collin Arnold told reporters Saturday. “I beg you to take this storm seriously,” he said. The same appeal was made by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who said the Ida would be one of the biggest storms to hit the United States since the 1850s.
In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell also urged residents to take the hurricane very seriously. “Time is not on our side,” she said Saturday. “Ida is growing rapidly, it is intensifying.”
This Sunday marks the 16th anniversary of the passage of Katrina, the devastating hurricane that flooded 80% of New Orleans, leaving 1,800 dead and billions of dollars in damage.
“Everyone is scared because it’s Katrina’s birthday and people didn’t take him seriously on that occasion,” said Austin Suriano, who helped protect the windows of his father’s watch shop.
Images posted on social media and US news channels showed large numbers of people at the airport waiting to board and long traffic jams on the roads to get out of town. However, given the intensification of the hurricane, authorities said it was too late and recommended that the population seek shelter.
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