‘If you plan to leave, do it now’: Hurricane Ida bears down on Gulf Coast

by Nate Morris
NOAA Satellite image of Hurricane Ida at 1:00PM CDT as it gains strength in the Gulf of Mexico

As Hurricane Ida bears down on Louisiana, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell urged residents to evacuate as quickly as possible. In a press conference on Saturday, Cantrell said the evacuation order for most of the city ahead of Hurricane Ida remains voluntary, but encouraged residents to leave immediately if they planned to do so.

“The time was not on our side,” said Mayor Cantrell when asked why she did not make the evacuation mandatory. Cantrell said a mandatory evacuation requires 72 hours of lead time, but the threat from Ida evolved too quickly.

“We’re pivoting to a post-storm response to can meet the needs of our people once the storm passes,” Cantrell said.

Officials warn residents who don’t leave they may be on their own

“If you choose to stay, by this evening, you need to be ready to shelter in place,” said Colin Arnold.  Arnold, the Director of Homeland Security for New Orleans, told residents to prepare for three days without power or water after Hurricane Ida passes.

“The first 72 is on you,” Arnold said, underscoring the likelihood that residents who choose to stay may be on their own for days after the storm.

Tyrell Morris, Director of the Orleans Parish Communication District, echoed this sentiment. Morris told residents that “once winds reach a certain threshold”, emergency officials will stop responding to calls for their safety.

Officials did express their confidence in the city’s levee system, saying “this is a different city than it was in August 2005”. While city leaders expect some levees to be overtopped by Hurricane Ida’s surge, they assured residents that levees will hold.

To the south of New Orleans in the city of Houma, residents are being ordered to evacuate.  Approximately 110,000 people call Houma and Terrabonne Parish home. Officials are warning all of them to get out while there is still time.

“Given the projected strength and storm surge of Hurricane Ida, we must ask residents to evacuate for their safety,” said Terrabonne Parish President Gordy Dove.

Similar warnings were issued for residents of Grand Isle, a popular tourist island on the Louisiana coast. Officials there warned residents that LA-1, the only road in and out of the island, would close as soon as water got too high. Officials are telling Grand Isle’s 1500 residents to prepare for a storm surge as high as 15 feet.

Hurricane Ida ‘rapidly intensifying’ in warm Gulf waters

Hurricane Ida is rapidly strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico as it moves quickly toward the coastline. According to 1PM CDT update form the National Weather Service, Ida had winds of 100mph, up from 80mph hours before. Meteorologists expect the storm to make landfall on Louisiana’s coast as a category 4 hurricane. Forecasters are warning that damage from Ida along the Gulf Coast could be “catastrophic”.

Ida is likely to make landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On August 29, 2005, Katrina hit the Louisiana coast as a category 3 storm, inundating the Gulf Coast region with a storm surge as high as 30 feet. The catastrophic storm left thousands dead and was one of the costliest tropical cyclones on record.

While many remain confident Ida will not bring the same devastation, officials urge residents not to take any chances.

“One of my main concerns is that we had a lot of near misses last year and that residents won’t be as alarmed as they should be,” said Mike Smith, Mayor of Waveland, Mississippi.

“Please pay close attention, get your details in order and get your plan in place,” he urged residents.

To support with disaster relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a donation.

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3 comments

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