Tens of thousands of residents of New Orleans and the Louisiana coastal area evacuate the region this Saturday before the Ida’s onslaught, expected to become an “extremely dangerous” hurricane, with sustained winds of up to 225 km / h, before making landfall in the US this Sunday.
With the memory of what happened, it is fair 16 years with Hurricane Katrina, that devastated the city, thousands of New Orleans citizens crowd the freeways heading north while the authorities warn of the danger posed by the rapid strengthening of Ida, which gains strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico after leaving Cuba behind.
The departure of thousands of people from the coastal area has caused important withholdings this Saturday and fuel has already started to run low at many points in New Orleans and the rest of a region where a curfew has been decreed in the parish of Terrebonne, which is in the possible path of Ida.
What will be the first hurricane to make landfall in the US so far this season in the Atlantic account is already at less than 565 km south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it is anticipated that it will reach the US coast on Sunday afternoon or evening as a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, out of a maximum of 5 and measuring hurricanes based on the strength of their winds.
But its greatest danger is water and, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), a “Devastating” storm surge could raise normal sea levels by up to 15 feet in the area of the mouth of the Mississippi.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans warns that the Storm surge, coupled with wind gusts as strong as 150 miles per hour, can render regions of southeastern Louisiana “uninhabitable”, due to “Structural damage” that buildings can suffer, “Many of whom will be swept away.”
To this should be added big and dangerous waves and great amounts of rain, with accumulation of up to 50 centimeters in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi through Monday.
All of this could cause floods and floods in this region, experts warned, which anticipated that tornadoes could be registered from Sunday until early Monday in this same area.
The mayor of the city, LaToya Cantrell, ordered this Friday the mandatory evacuation of people living outside the levee system that protect the city against possible floods, and he recommended to the rest that they also leave the area or seek protection.
And this Saturday Cantrell said at a press conference that the decision to stay or evacuate must be made “immediately”, because the “time is not on the side” of the citizenship and Ida will arrive very soon, and they must all be prepared before tonight.
No less resounding was the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, who has warned on several occasions that the countdown to evacuate has already begun and that residents have until dusk this Saturday to be ready for Ida’s arrival, which it foresees will have “serious impacts” on the state.
Edwards has already requested the declaration of the state of emergency, which was accepted shortly after by the president, Joe Biden, to be able to assist the region with federal funds and means.
Katrina in memory
Considered one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused the death of 1,833 people and the displacement of almost a million inhabitants, by losing its properties.
The city, built between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, was almost completely flooded when the levees of that lake were broken by the strong winds originated by Katrina, which arrived on August 29, 2005 as category 3, while Ida is expected to be force 4.
But now the local authorities hope that lhe multimillion-dollar investment made in the water containment and pumping system avoid a possible tragedy on the same day, 16 years later. And they say that New Orleans is a “very different city in terms of security and infrastructure” in relation to what it was 16 years ago.
Louisiana is a region used to the onslaught of these powerful tropical storms. Ida also comes almost a year after Laura made landfall on August 27, 2020 as the strongest hurricane recorded in this state, with winds of 240 km / h, and left about 40 dead in the US.
Now comes Ida, who previously passed through Cuba this Friday, when it made landfall as a category 1 hurricane and crossed the country at its western end with no fatalities reported so far.
(With information from EFE)