Friday, December 3

Hurricane Ida Could Be Among the Strongest to Hit Louisiana Since the 1850s, Governor Warns | Louisiana

As Hurricane Ida moved toward the Louisiana coast, residents prepared for a storm of potentially historic proportions that would arrive on the 16th anniversary of Katrina, the brutal hurricane that claimed more than 1,800 lives on the US Gulf Coast.

Officials with the National Hurricane Center said Ida had strengthened to a Category 3 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday morning. It is forecast to make landfall Sunday afternoon as a potential Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph (210 km / h), life-threatening storm surge and heavy rain.

State officials have warned that Ida is likely to become one of the worst hurricanes in the history of Louisiana, a region known for torrid weather events.

A satellite image of Hurricane Ida from 9pm on Saturday.
A satellite image of Hurricane Ida from 9pm on Saturday. Photograph: NOAA / GOES / AFP / Getty Images

“This will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” said Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. at a press conference on Saturday. “We can also tell you that your time window is closing. It’s closing fast. “

Tens of thousands of residents in coastal communities in southeastern Louisiana were under mandatory evacuation orders. In New Orleans, the city placed those living outside the levee protection system under mandatory evacuation and urged everyone else to leave voluntarily. There was a traffic jam on the main highway leading out of the city and long lines at Louis Armstrong International Airport, as announced by officials. all flights would be canceled on Sunday.

It was August 29, 2005 when New Orleans and other communities in the region were decimated by Katrina and subsequent government failures in response. Hundreds of thousands of homes were lost after the city’s levee system failed, leading to catastrophic flooding. The city took years to recover.

On Saturday, Edwards pointed to billions of dollars in federal government investments in the city’s levees to argue that the city was better prepared more than a decade later.

“We are not the same state we were 16 years ago,” Edwards said. “This system is going to be tested. The people of Louisiana will get tested. But we are tough and tough people. And we’re going to get over this. “

In downtown New Orleans, the streets were eerily quiet Saturday night as the city braced for the arrival of tropical-storm-force winds beginning Sunday morning. In the city’s historic French Quarter, businesses were boarded up and on Bourbon St, usually the center of the city’s nightlife on weekends, the bars were deserted.

New Orleans resident Aha Hasan outside Buffa's Lounge on Saturday.  He plans to stay in town when Hurricane Ida approaches.
New Orleans resident Aha Hasan outside Buffa’s Lounge on Saturday. He plans to stay in town when Hurricane Ida approaches. Photograph: Anne Ponton / The Guardian

Still, some companies remained open. At Buffa’s, a 24-hour dive bar and jazz venue in the city’s Marigny neighborhood that’s known for its decision to stay open during inclement weather, a steady stream of regulars came to drink and eat. Before the storm came

Aha Hasan, a 25-year-old camera technician, drank beer and drank shots before preparing to weather the storm at his nearby third-floor apartment. Hasan was 10 years old when Katrina hit the city and he still remembers it vividly.

“Every four years we have a bad one,” he said. “And everyone I know who has been in this city during all these intense hurricanes is not going anywhere this time, so I decided to stay for that.”

The Louisiana National Guard has stationed 5,000 soldiers across the state in preparation for search and rescue missions. As officials warned of widespread power outages, 10,000 linemen were ready to respond.

Ida’s precise location on land remains unclear, with hurricane warnings in effect from Intracoastal City in southern Louisiana to New Orleans. Storm surge warnings extend to the coast of Mississippi and Alabama.

Ida’s runway moved slightly east throughout Saturday, increasing the danger in New Orleans, where the National Weather Service projected winds of 110 mph and up to 20 inches (510 mm) of rain, raising fears of major flooding. sudden in the city.

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