Governor John Bel Edwards has warned Louisians of Hurricane Ida that time is running out to make final preparations and take cover before what should be a Category 4 storm begins to strike the Louisiana coast.
Hurricane Ida is expected in the parish of Terrebonne around 7 p.m. Sunday, but Edwards warned people should complete their final preparations and seek refuge in a safe place well before that date. Tropical storm force winds could arrive on the Louisiana coast as early as 8:00 a.m. Sunday.
“Your time window is closing quickly,” Edwards said. “By the time you go to bed tonight you must be where you intend to weather the storm.”
Little has changed in the path and intensity of Hurricane Ida. Forecasters say this is because conditions in the Gulf of Mexico between storm and land are ideal for its rapid development and intensification.
The National Weather Service is “extremely confident” in its prediction of the path and intensity of the storm, Edwards said.
The strength of the Category 4 storm could reach historic levels, with sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour, possibly exceeding those caused by Hurricane Laura a year ago.
“We can sum it up by saying this would be one of the strongest storms to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” Edwards said.
Forecasters expect a 10 to 15 foot storm surge between Morgan City and the mouth of the Mississippi River. The most severe storm surge impacts will occur in St. Mary, Terrebonne, Lafourche and Jefferson Parish, Edwards said.
Precipitation totals are expected to vary from 8 to 16 inches in the direct track of the storm, but some areas may experience totals as high as 20 inches. Edwards said residents of the affected area should be on the lookout for flash flooding and communities on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain are at increased risk of flooding from the river.
As many Louisianans flee coastal and lower parishes, Edwards urged them to travel further than Lafayette and Baton Rouge, which are still in danger.
“I don’t want people further inland to be caught off guard because there is a potential for sustained winds of 110 mph as far north as the Louisiana-Mississippi border, but also Lafayette via Baton Rouge to New Orleans, ”Edwards said, adding winds of this speed are equivalent to the force of a Category 2 storm on landing.
The Department of Transportation and Development reported heavy congestion on interstate highways heading east and west of the state and urged evacuees to use northbound roads via I-59, I-55, I-49, Highway 61, Highway 165, and Highway 171.
Shelters across the state began opening on Saturday morning, and at 2:00 p.m. Edwards said only “a few dozen” people were in state-run shelters. Edwards urged as many people as possible to take refuge with friends or family outside the path of the storm to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus in a collective shelter.
Edwards advised those navigating the storm in place to have at least three days of essential items on hand, including food, water, medication and personal protective equipment, for all members family and pets.
“The first 72 hours are for you,” Edwards said Friday.
The state continues to marshal resources for search and rescue operations after the storm hits.
The Louisiana National Guard organized 164 high seas vehicles, 62 boats, 34 helicopters, and activated 4,013 troops to respond to the storm. Edwards predicts that the entire Guard will be called in to help – more than 5,000 troops in total.
650 additional rescuers from other states and the federal government are on hand to assist, along with 150 rescue boats operated by the state fire marshal, 169 Louisiana wildlife and fisheries officers, forces of the local order and volunteers.
More than 10,000 utility workers stand by in Louisiana to restore power after the storm. Edwards said the state has contracts with a total of 20,000 utility workers who could be called in to restore power if necessary.
Hurricane Ida will make landfall exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina, a date Edwards recognized as a “difficult anniversary” for many Louisians who find themselves displaced again as another storm hits the coast of Louisiana.
“Every storm is different – they all bring their own challenges,” Edwards said. “But I also want you to know that we are not the same state as 16 years ago.”
Since Hurricane Katrina, the federal government has invested $ 14.6 billion in creating the Hurricane Damage Risk Reduction System – by strengthening dikes, building flood gates and installing systems. pumping to better protect the Louisiana coast and low-lying communities.
“This system is going to be tested, and there is no doubt that the people of Louisiana are going to be tested,” Edwards said. “But we are resilient and tough people and we are going to get by.”
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