Residents of high-risk areas evacuated their homes and queued to stock up while waiting for the Hurricane Ida, which is forecast to be “extremely dangerous” when it makes landfall in the southern United States this weekend after hitting western Cuba.
FOLLOW LIVE THE TRACK OF HURRICANE IDA:
The US National Weather Service is forecasting a “life-threatening storm surge” when the hurricane makes landfall along the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, warning of “catastrophic wind damage” and urging those in affected areas to follow the advice of local authorities.
“The time to act is now. Hurricane Ida is now forecast to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, ”urged the New Orleans office of the National Weather Service in a tweet.
It is the second highest level on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, with a minimum wind force of 209 kilometers per hour.
Louisiana declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm, which would make landfall in the United States on Sunday, 16 years after the devastating Hurricane Katrina that struck the state for the first time.
Katrina caused flooding in 80% of New Orleans and killed more than 1,800 people.
Authorities have already ordered mandatory evacuations outside the levee-protected areas of New Orleans and flood-prone coastal towns on the state’s coast such as Grand Isle.
“People are packing up and going out right now,” Grand Isle police chief Scooter Resweber told local media. “We know this is going to be important.”
The declaration of a state of emergency, approved by President Joe Biden, will channel supplemental federal funds and aid to the southern state to strengthen its emergency preparedness and response efforts.
The hurricane made landfall on Friday night in western Cuba with category 1, with maximum sustained winds close to 128 km per hour.
Ida struck the island in the province of Pinar del Río, the current epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic on the island.
On Twitter, the Cuban Health Minister, José Ángel Portal, warned on Friday about a “double threat”: “Facing a meteorological phenomenon of this nature in the midst of the most complex epidemiological scenario that the country has experienced since the beginning of the pandemic.”
More than 10,000 people were evacuated and power was cut off before the storm, as a precaution
In Havana, public transportation was suspended at noon and thousands of people were evacuated.
– “Potentially devastating” –
“Now is the time for the people of Louisiana to prepare,” tweeted the governor of the state, John Bel Edwards, and asked residents to “be prepared for whatever comes.”
But New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell asked residents in the area within the city’s protective levee system to stay in their homes.
A public shelter for people who could not evacuate but did not want to shelter in their homes was in the process of being installed, he added.
The NHC said the storm is likely to produce “considerable” heavy rainfall and flooding from southeastern Louisiana to the coast of Mississippi and Alabama.
Last week, a rare tropical storm hit the northeast coast of the United States, leaving thousands of residents without power, uprooting trees and causing record-breaking rainfall.
Scientists have warned of an increase in the number of strong cyclones as the ocean surface warms due to climate change, posing an increasing threat to the world’s coastal communities.
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