New Orleans’ mayor has ordered neighborhoods unprotected from flooding to be evacuated as the city prepares for a possible direct impact from a storm stronger than Hurricane Katrina, which left a trail of destruction exactly 16 years ago.
“I’m told this storm won’t fade,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said on Saturday (28/8).
Hurricane Ida intensified in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before its arrival on the southern coast of the United States, scheduled for Sunday (29/8).
Mandatory evacuation is in effect for some parts of New Orleans—those outside of the dike-protected areas—while for the rest of the city, a voluntary evacuation order has been issued.
The levees are a system of flood barriers, built to protect the lower reaches of New Orleans and reinforced after Katrina in 2005.
“If you’re going to leave (the house), you need to do it now,” Cantrell said. “We need to make sure you’re in a safe place. Everyone, if you’re going to leave voluntarily or stay, get ready.”
She added that those who cannot leave the city must “prepare for winds, power outages, heavy rains, tornadoes.”
Increasingly Intense Storms
The impact of climate change on storm frequency is still unclear, but rising sea surface temperatures warm the air and make more energy available to drive hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.
As a result, these phenomena are likely to be more intense, with more extreme rains.
Meteorologists say the hurricane will be in Category 4 when it hits the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 80 oil rigs in the gulf were evacuated, and half of the region’s oil and gas production was suspended.
The Ida has already brought heavy rains to the west of Cuba, reaching the Ida de Juventude with winds of 120 km/h.
Coincidentally, Sunday marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans after reaching Category 3. Katrina flooded 80% of the city and killed more than 1,800 people.
Experts say that if the storm waves occur at a time that coincides with the high tides, the sea water could flood New Orleans’ levee system and reach the city.
Louisiana Governor Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and has urged everyone along the state’s coast to take shelter beginning Saturday night.
President Joe Biden said Saturday that Ida was “turning into a very, very dangerous storm” and that the federal government is ready to help.
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