Hurricane Ida battered Cuba with roof-pounding force on Friday as it headed for a weekend US landfall along the Louisiana coast, causing the evacuation of flood-prone New Orleans neighborhoods and oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the National Weather Service, as of late Friday, Ida was packing sustained winds of up to 80 mph (129 kph), causing the storm to hit southeastern Louisiana on Sunday afternoon before becoming a major hurricane. was expected to accelerate. Evening.
Forecasters said Ida will likely make US landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane on the five-stage Saffir-Simpson scale, producing steady winds near 140 mph, heavy rain and several feet underwater in Louisiana. Much of the shoreline is expected to fall. .
According to the National Hurricane Center, high surf—driven by flood-storm winds from Ida’s storm surge—is expected to reach between 10 and 15 feet around the mouth of the Mississippi River, with lower levels along the adjacent coasts of the Mississippi and Alabama. are spread in the east. .
Tornadoes scattered across the region, widespread power outages and inland flooding were also expected.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards urged residents to prepare themselves for the storm immediately.
“Now is the time to finish your preparations,” he said at a news conference on Friday afternoon. “By tomorrow night, you’ll have to get to where you intend to ride out the storm.”
New Orleans officials ordered residents to evacuate to communities outside the city’s levy system, and posted voluntary evacuation notices for the rest of the parish.
Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome signed an emergency disaster declaration and said the city has already deployed sand and sand bags at eight strategic locations as part of hurricane preparedness.
Hailey Delaunay, 29, a lifelong bay resident, told Reuters that she and her fiancée spent Friday evening climbing through the windows of their home in Gulfport, Mississippi, and collecting provisions for storm surge exits.
“Hurricane has always been a part of my life,” said the high school theology teacher, who was born during the 1992 Category 5 Hurricane Andrew. “You just walk through your list and hope for the best.”
Edwards declared a state of emergency on Thursday, and on Friday President Joe Biden issued a pre-landfall federal emergency declaration at Edwards’ request. It authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in the state.
Edwards also said that he had authorized all 5,000 soldiers in the Louisiana National Guard to be activated for emergency deployment as needed.
Federal regulators said energy companies rushing to complete the evacuation of offshore platforms in the Gulf before the storm have cut petroleum production by about 60 percent and gas production by nearly half.
Caribbean takes first hit
Shortly after being upgraded from tropical storm to hurricane status, Ida broke through the Caribbean island nation’s southwest end into the tiny Isle of Youth in Cuba, downing trees and tearing roofs from homes.
The streets of the capital Havana were empty, as residents locked themselves at home before the arrival of Ida, which government forecasters warned a storm could hit Cuba’s west coast.
Jamaica was flooded with heavy rain, and made landfall after the storm passed. Many roads were impassable, forcing some residents to leave their homes.
Ida, the ninth named storm and the fourth hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, could exceed the strength of Hurricane Laura, the last Category 4 hurricane to strike Louisiana, forecasters said. But that is less than Katrina, the monster Category 5 hurricane that devastated the region in August 2005, killing more than 1,800 people.
Officials in US coastal areas preparing for the storm urged residents to pull boats out of port and encouraged early evacuations.
Officials in Louisiana’s LaFourche Parish said they would enact a voluntary evacuation specifically for people in low-lying areas, mobile homes and RVs.
by Maria Caspani and Steve Gorman
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times