Hurricane Ida, as one of the strongest in the history of the United States, reached the shores of Louisiana on Sunday evening, Polish time. In addition to the wind speed of 240 kilometers per hour, the element is expected to bring flood waves reaching over four meters, and it can also cause local tornadoes. “We pray for the best but prepare for the worst,” said US President Joe Biden, who called for local government instructions to be followed.
Hurricane Ida went ashore on Sunday around 12 p.m. local time (7 p.m. in Poland). The first point of contact of the cyclone’s eye with the earth was Port Fourchon, the southernmost point of Louisiana, and the Grand Isle in the Gulf of Mexico, which was cut off shortly afterwards. Wind speed reaches about 240 km / h, and gusts up to 300 km / h.
– It’s time to stay home. Don’t go outside, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell appealed.
As late as Saturday, Ida was classified as a Category 2 hurricane on a five-point ascending Sapphir-Simpson scale, but at night it quickly grew, reaching wind speeds close to Category 5. The acceleration of the cyclone was complicated by the evacuation plans for residents who were called on to voluntarily leave their homes on Friday. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has described the hurricane as “extremely life-threatening”. “Treat this extremely strong wind as if it was a tornado and hide in a building or shelter immediately,” the National Weather Service (NWS) recommended in a statement.
The US president warns of a hurricane
President Joe Biden has warned of the threat of a hurricane.
– Everyone should listen to instructions given by state and local authorities as to how serious this is. It is not just the coast, it is also the North. The rainfall will be extremely heavy. To the people of the coast – I want you to know that we are praying for the best but preparing for the worst. As soon as the hurricane has passed, we intend to redirect the country’s full strength to search and rescue operations. I’ve seen a lot of hurricanes, and while I’m not an expert, I don’t think we’ll ever gear up so much, in the long term, to anything before that, said the US President.
– It will be terrible. The hurricane is threatening your health and life, so I beg all of you in Mississippi, Louisiana, perhaps further east, to really take care of yourselves. Take it seriously, appealed the host of the White House.
Waves up to four meters and tornadoes possible
The wind speed inside the Ida makes it one of the strongest hurricanes in US history. He may be the strongest in 170 years, according to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
The threat is not only the force of the wind. The hurricane is expected to bring in flood waves as high as four meters and heavy rainfall, and could also trigger local tornadoes.
The cyclone is expected to move inland northward and then northeast in the coming hours and days, gradually losing strength. On Ida’s projected path are the metropolises of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, among others.
A test for safeguards built after the Katrina hit
Ida struck on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and caused catastrophic damage and flooding in much of Louisiana and Mississippi, including New Orleans.
The hurricane is the most serious test for the dams built around New Orleans after the Katrina crossing. About $ 14 billion was spent on their construction. Governor Edwards said in an interview with CNN that he expects the barriers around the metropolis to withstand, though other cities may be at greater risk.
“We are less confident in areas further south where there are other security systems that are not built to the same standard,” he said.
Before the hurricane struck, the people of Louisiana were leaving the most vulnerable areas en masse. There were many kilometers of traffic jams on the roads and highways. The airports were crowded.
“I left Port Fourchon on Saturday at 8 p.m. and this is a ghost town,” said Andre LeBlanc, a Louisiana resident. “We were one of the last to get out of there,” he added.
Scott Pierce, 32, has evacuated to Florida to escape Ida. “We’re terrified,” said Pierce, worried about his home on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
Overcrowded hospitals in Louisiana
The fear in Louisiana is all the greater because the local hospitals are overcrowded with patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Across the United States, the state has the third highest COVID-19 incidence per 100,000 inhabitants.
“The consequences of a Category 4 hurricane when hospitals are full are beyond what we usually consider,” the Louisiana governor said at a press conference. – We spoke to hospitals to make sure that their generators are working, whether they have much more water on hand than usual, whether they have personal protective equipment on hand, he added.
“It’s a massive and dangerous hurricane, it’s moving faster than we thought, so we have a little less time to prepare,” warned Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s chief medical officer. – We have a lot of COVID-19 cases, so there are many risks – he said.
“The destruction will overlap”
On TVN24, Katarzyna Sławińska, a former correspondent of TVN’s “Fakty” in the United States, spoke about the preparations for the advent of the element. As she recalled, “Louisiana has not yet recovered from the impact of two major hurricanes from last year.” It is about hurricane Laura, also fourth category, and Zeta – hurricane third category.
– The damage that Ida can cause will add to that from last year. Hence so many fears, hence such fear and hence evacuations – she said.
Main photo source: Getty Images