Escape and fear in Louisiana as Hurricane Ida approaches

Hurricane Ida, category 4, was advancing this Sunday towards the state of Louisiana with maximum winds of 225 km/hour, which caused a flight of residents in this region of the southern United States, who still remembers with sadness the passage of Katrina in 2005.

“The Ida center is expected to continue shifting across the north central Gulf of Mexico this morning, and is expected to touch ground along the Louisiana coast in the afternoon or evening,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) stated in its newsletter last.

The hurricane will produce “life-threatening storms, potentially catastrophic wind damage and flooding from rain,” the NHC added.

Commercial establishments have reinforced protection on doors and windows. Residents left New Orleans and other cities in Louisiana.

Airports registered queues of passengers waiting for flights to leave the state, while heavy traffic jams dominated the city’s exit highways.

“Everyone is scared because it’s Katrina’s birthday and people didn’t take it seriously at the time,” said Austin Suriano, who helped reinforce the windows at his father’s watch repair shop.

This Sunday the passage of Katrina completes 16 years. The devastating hurricane flooded 80% of New Orleans, left 1,800 dead and caused billions of dollars of damage.

US President Joe Biden warned that “Ida is turning into a very, very dangerous storm.”

– “Time is not on our side” –

State Governor John Bel Edwards said this will be one of the biggest storms to hit the United States since the 1850s.

In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned residents to take Hurricane Ida seriously. “Time is not on our side,” he declared on Saturday. The storm “is growing rapidly, it is intensifying”.

Southern Louisiana prepares for massive damage and flooding, with rains of up to 50 cm predicted at some points, as the storm advances through the Gulf after affecting western Cuba.

“Prolonged loss of electrical power is almost certain,” said New Orleans Security Secretary Collin Arnold. “I beg you to take the storm seriously.”

Biden announced the dispatch of hundreds of agents to help with the emergency, as well as food, water and power generators.

Shelters are also being prepared, but Louisiana was one of the states most affected by the covid-19 pandemic, prompting Biden to call for masks and precautions.

The National Weather Service predicts a tide of 3.5 meters in New Orleans and five meters around the mouth of the Mississippi River when the hurricane touches the ground.

Category 4 is the second highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricanes.

The declaration of a state of emergency in Louisiana, approved by Biden, will earmark federal resources and help the state strengthen emergency preparedness and response measures.

The hurricane touched down on Friday night in western Cuba as category 1, with maximum winds of 128 km/h. The storm knocked down trees, damaged roofs and caused electricity poles to fall.

– Painful birthday –

Warnings about the arrival of Hurricane Ida inevitably evoke memories of the passing of Katrina.

“It’s painful to think that another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida could touch the ground on this anniversary,” declared the governor of Louisiana.

The big difference is that since then the city has made a major investment in a protection system consisting of dikes, locks and pumps.