Hurricane Ida hit the United States this Sunday as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm that could leave much of the Louisiana coast under water as the state fights a covid-19 spike that is already straining hospitals.
Ida gained strength overnight, faster than meteorologists had predicted just a day ago, and hit the harbor near Port Fourchon at 11:55 am local time, the National Hurricane Center reported.
It will be the toughest test for the hundreds of miles of new levees built around New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the coast 16 years ago, flooding historically black neighborhoods and killing more than 1,800 people.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the state may be the hardest hit by a hurricane since the 1850s.
Louisiana is also dealing with the third-highest rate of new covid-19 infections in the country, with nearly 3,400 new cases registered as of Friday (27). Hospitals were treating about 2,450 patients with covid-19, Edwards said, with others in the state nearly full.
On Sunday, Ida was a Category 4 hurricane on the five-stage Saffir-Simpson scale with winds of 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour), the NHC said.
Palm trees swayed as rain hit New Orleans on Sunday morning, where Robert Ruffin, a 68-year-old retiree, fled with his family to a hotel east of the city.
“I thought it was safer,” he said. “It’s a double problem this time because of the covid.”
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