Hurricane Ida strengthens into Category 4 storm as it nears Gulf Coast landfall

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As Ida marches north toward Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, weather forecasters previously said the storm’s wind speeds are expected to increase, potentially further devastating the region upon arrival.

“Ida is about to strengthen further and based on recent satellite imagery, it appears that reinforcement is imminent,” the said. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Saturday night, adding that Ida is “expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane”.

The storm is about to make landfall Sunday afternoon or evening, but tropical storm winds could reach New Orleans and surrounding areas Sunday morning.
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A hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Pearl River and includes Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and New Orleans.

The life-threatening effects of rain, wind and storm surges will extend far from the storm’s center, the NHC said, and warnings have been issued to residents who fear the storm. consequences of major storms both in the past year and historically.

If Ida makes landfall in Louisiana as predicted, it would be the fourth hurricane to do so since last August and Louisiana’s third major hurricane in that time.

A Sunday strike would also fall on Hurricane Katrina’s 16th anniversary Landing on the Gulf Coast, which led to the deaths of more than 1,800 people in the region.

“August 29 is an important date in history here,” Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told CNN on Saturday. “A lot of people remember what happened 16 years ago. It’s time to sit down tonight and be where you need to be.”

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For Ida, officials across the state have begged people to evacuate, and some have given mandatory orders to do so. News footage from the area shows traffic reversing on its way to New Orleans.

Arnold urged people to stock up on enough food and water for at least three days.

“We say the first 72 (hours) are yours,” Arnold added. “The first three days of this will be difficult for emergency responders to reach you.”

AN dangerous storm surge 10 to 15 feet is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River on Sunday when Ida makes landfall, the NHC said. More storm surges are expected from the coasts of western Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.

According to a hurricane statement from the National Weather Service in New Orleans, the storm surge, combined with winds up to 150 mph, could render some parts of southeast Louisiana “uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

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The statement warned of “structural damage to buildings, with much washes away” and of winds that could cause “widespread power and communication failures”. Flooding rains can cause “numerous road and bridge closures, some weakened or washed away” and “some structures become uninhabitable or washed away”.

Rainfall accumulation during the storm could total 8 to 16 inches from southeastern Louisiana to southern Mississippi through Monday, with isolated amounts of 20 inches possible, the NHC said.

Region prepares as landfall approaches

Nearby residents are quick running out of time to leave, and those who didn’t leave in time have to work to find a safe place to take shelter.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said Friday that once the storm begins, people should stay off the road to protect first responders.

As the storm approached, mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of at least seven parishes in Louisiana, as well as the towns of Grande Isle and Port Fourchon. Voluntary evacuations were issued in six parishes.

Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng on Saturday urged residents of low-lying areas to evacuate before Hurricane Ida hit, as the expected storm surge is “unsurvivable.”

“I want to reiterate that the storm surge that we expect is not survivable,” she said, adding that the storm is expected to linger over the area. “You must leave immediately.”

The storm will further strain resources already stretched thin amid the latest Covid-19 pandemic wave. Hospitals in New Orleans will not evacuate and will instead provide shelter as Ida makes her way through the region, said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, director of the city health department.

“I would like to ask our residents, if you don’t have to go to the hospital this weekend, if you don’t have a life-threatening emergency, please don’t go,” Avegno said. “Now is not the time to go to the hospital for a routine job that can wait until later.”

CNN’s Monica Garrett, Gene Norman, Chris Boyette, Paul P. Murphy, Melissa Alonso, Hollie Silverman, Aya Elamroussi, Haley Brink, Ray Sanchez, and Alaa Elassar contributed to this report.

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