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'Now is the time to run': powerful hurricane Ida is fast approaching the United States

Hurricane Ida is expected to rapidly escalate to Category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, Aug. 29. An evacuation has been announced in New Orleans and the surrounding coastal area. Writes about it CNN.

Photo: Shutterstock

Ida is now moving from Cuba to the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to intensify in the next 24 to 36 hours before landfall on the Louisiana coast on Sunday afternoon or evening. Recent satellite imagery has shown that the storm is becoming more organized.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell warned residents planning a voluntary evacuation and recommended leaving immediately.

“Time is not on our side. The hurricane is growing rapidly and intensifying, the mayor said. "If you are voluntarily evacuating, now is the time to run - you need to do it immediately."

Ida is expected to reach at least Category 4 before landfall, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Gale winds can reach New Orleans at approximately 08:00 on August 29, before the storm hits the coast in the afternoon or evening west of New Orleans, near Huma and Morgan City.

“Ida is expected to become an extremely dangerous violent hurricane as it approaches the northern Gulf Coast,” forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said on Saturday morning August 28. As of the afternoon of August 28, Ida had reached the second category with a maximum wind speed of 100 miles (160 km) per hour. And it moves at a speed of 16 miles (25,7 km) per hour.

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Officials across the state are asking people to evacuate, with some issuing binding orders to do so. Traffic from New Orleans has increased.

Colleen Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, urged people to stock up on enough food and water for at least three days - and be either on the road or at home by midnight August 28.

“For the first 72 hours, you’ll only be able to rely on yourself,” explained Arnold. “In the first three days it will be difficult to contact you.”

New Orleans officials urged residents to "leave by Sunday morning if they can."

“If you're staying, pack up supplies, recharge your devices, lower the temperature in the refrigerator, and protect items outdoors,” the message said.

Screenshot: NHC

“Louisiana residents have time before dark,” officials warn. They suggest that Ida "will deal a serious blow to the entire state."

Cantrell issued a mandatory evacuation order for all urban areas outside the flood protection system and urged other residents to evacuate voluntarily or take shelter in place.

“The city can't declare a mandatory evacuation because we don't have time,” Cantrell said. "We do not want people to be on the road, which means we are in greater danger due to lack of time."

According to NHC, a dangerous storm surge of 10 to 15 feet (3-4,5 m) is expected from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi estuary on Sunday, Aug. 29, when Ida comes ashore.

The storm surge, combined with winds of up to 150 miles (241 km) per hour, could render parts of southeastern Louisiana "uninhabitable for weeks or months," according to the latest statement from the National Weather Service.

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The statement warns of "structural damage to buildings" and winds that could trigger "massive blackouts". Flood rains can cause “numerous road and bridge closures, some of which will be weakened or eroded,” “some structures will become uninhabitable or be completely washed away by water.”

Rainfall can range from 8 to 16 inches (20-40 cm), with maximum rainfall reaching 20 inches (50 cm) in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi before Monday, August 30, so significant flooding is possible. in the rivers.

The hurricane warning remains in effect from Intracostal City, Louisiana to the Pearl River estuary, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Morepas, and New Orleans.

In Louisiana, a hurricane warning is in effect from Cameron west of Intracoastal City and from the mouth of the Pearl River to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

“If you are going to evacuate, you know that this is the responsibility that you take upon yourself. Do it as soon as possible, Arnold advised. "You don't want to get stuck on the road when the hurricane comes."

If Ida comes ashore in Louisiana, it will be the fourth hurricane since last August and the third major hurricane in Louisiana in this period.

Sunday, August 29, the projected landfall day, marks the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive in US history. More than 1800 people died in the Gulf of Mexico region directly or indirectly as a result of the storm and in the days that followed.

“August 29 is an important date in history here,” Collins said. "Many people remember what happened 16 years ago."

In Washington, an administration spokesman said US President Joe Biden was "regularly briefed on the trajectory of the storm." Biden spoke with the governors of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

Ida and COVID-19

Hospitals in New Orleans will not be evacuated - they will take shelter in place, said the director of the city's health department, Dr. Jennifer Avegno.

The capacity of nearby hospitals in Texas and Florida is "extremely limited" as the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations grows, she said. She added that city hospitals are familiar with plans for the storms.

Screenshot: NHC

“I want to ask our residents: if you don’t have to go to the hospital this weekend, if you don’t have a life-threatening situation, please don’t go,” Avenio said. "Now is not the time to go to the hospital because of routine things that can be postponed until later."

Meanwhile, Louisiana has no plans to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated people in emergency shelters, according to Mike Steele, spokesman for the state's Department of Homeland Security and Emergencies.

Steele noted that municipalities issue evacuation orders and these operations begin at the local level. He stressed that masks are essential in all state shelters along with social distancing.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has raised concerns about shelters as COVID-19 cases rise in the state.

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“The prospect of potentially sheltering thousands and thousands of people at the peak of the fourth wave is very, very daunting,” he said.

The Governor acknowledged the need to prepare for a potential hurricane amid recovery efforts following an intense 2020 hurricane season.

“We haven't recovered yet,” the governor said of hurricanes Laura and Delta. “We still have businesses boarded up after the last hurricane. The houses have not yet been renovated and inhabited. Or, if they are damaged to such an extent that they need to be torn down and taken out, in many cases this has not happened yet either. "

Ida went ashore twice in Cuba

Before entering the Gulf of Mexico, Ida hit Cuba twice as a Category 1 hurricane.

Ida, first formed as a tropical storm in the Caribbean on Thursday, August 26, hit the Cuban island of Juventud on Friday, August 27 afternoon, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

The second landfall occurred in western Cuba, about 20 miles (30 km) east of La Coloma, according to satellite imagery, radar data and NOAA Hurricane Hunter.

More than 4 inches (10 cm) of rain has been recorded in Pinar del Rio, according to the Cuban Meteorological Institute.

Some parts of western Cuba had sporadic rainfall events ranging from 5 to 15 inches (12,7 to 38 cm), according to hurricane center forecasters.

"This amount of rainfall can cause life-threatening flash floods and landslides," the hurricane center said.

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