Sixteen years ago on this date, Aug. 29, the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana and tore through New Orleans along with other cities and states that reside in the Gulf Coast.
The Bayou State is now preparing for the impact of Hurricane Ida, which forecasters say has rapidly strengthened into a dangerous Category 4 storm–making it one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana in 170 years. Ida is expected to make landfall in Louisiana at some point Sunday afternoon.
According to The Associated Press, forecasters predict Ida will hit the coast with 155 mph winds, which is just short of a Category 5 hurricane. The AP reports that the storm comes at a time when the New Orleans region grapples with a strong resurgence of COVID-19 infections, which adds complications due to hospitals near capacity and the risk of spreading the virus at temporary shelters.
From the AP:
Ida intensified so swiftly that New Orleans officials said there was no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of its 390,000 residents. Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to leave voluntarily. Those who stayed were warned to prepare for long power outages amid sweltering heat.
... Gov. John Bel Edwards vowed Saturday that Louisiana’s “resilient and tough people” would weather the storm. He also noted shelters would operate with reduced capacities “to reflect the realities of COVID.”
Edwards said Louisiana officials were already working to find hotel rooms for many evacuees so that fewer had to stay in mass shelters. He noted that during last year’s hurricane season, Louisiana found rooms for 20,000 people.
“So, we know how to do this,” Edwards said. “I hope and pray we don’t have to do it anywhere near that extent.”
NBC affiliate WDSU in New Orleans reports that thousands of Louisiana residents are already without power due to Ida’s impact. Based on past experiences with Category 4 storms, according to WDSU, officials say that some customers could be without power for three weeks or longer.
Frankly, these reports sound terrifying. It’s also absolute garbage that New Orleans and other communities ravaged by Katrina have to deal with the prospect of more devastation coming after working so hard to rebuild.
Stay safe out there.