RESIDENTS of states on the Gulf of Mexico have been warned that Hurricane Ida will cause catastrophe as it bears down on New Orleans and moves inland over the Southern United States.
Ida is a Category 4 hurricane and has been described to be more dangerous that Hurricane Katrina that was responsible for the deaths of nearly 2 000 residents of New Orleans 16 years ago.
Ida has already brought extreme winds, a dangerous storm surge and flash flooding to the southern state of Louisiana after making landfall there on Sunday.
“We are expecting catastrophic impacts from this,” Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell said during a news briefing in the afternoon.
President Joe Biden said the storm continues to rage and ravage everything it comes into contact with and urged residents in affected areas to listen to instructions from local and state authorities.
“The storm is a life-threatening storm,” he said.
Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana and caused wind velocity to increase to 241 kilometres per hour in some areas.
It hit the US Gulf Coast region on the exact date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years ago. Katrina was responsible for the deaths of 1 800 people.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards had warned that Ida could be the state’s worst direct hit by a hurricane since the 1850s.
“This is not the kind of storm that we normally get. This is going to be much stronger than we usually see and, quite frankly, if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing,” Edwards said.”
Before the storm made landfall, Louisiana State Police tweeted that “conditions are quickly deteriorating” and urged residents to take cover.
“If you have not evacuated and are in the affected area along the southeast and south-central gulf coast, please seek shelter immediately,” the State Police said.
Ida intensified so swiftly that New Orleans local authority officials said there was no time to organise a mandatory evacuation of the city’s 390 000 residents.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to leave voluntarily. Those who stayed were warned to prepare for long power outages.