‘Life-altering’ event …

NEW ORLEANS (AP)– Forecasters warned citizens along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to hurry preparations ahead of Typhoon Ida, which is expected to rapidly heighten and bring winds as high as 130 miles per hour (209 kph), life-threatening storm surge and flooding rain when it knocks ashore Sunday in Louisiana.

The National Cyclone Center cautioned that super-warm Gulf waters are expected to quickly magnify Ida’s destructive power, boosting it from a Classification 2 storm to an extremely hazardous Category 4 typhoon in just 18 hours or less. Landfall was anticipated Sunday afternoon.

Coastal highways saw heavy traffic Saturday as individuals moved to get away the storm’s course. Trucks pulling saltwater fishing boats and campers streamed far from the coast Interstate 65 in south Alabama. Traffic congestion clogged Interstate 10 going out of New Orleans.

” We’re going to catch it head-on,” stated Bebe McElroy as she prepared to leave house in the seaside Louisiana town of Cocodrie. “I’m just walking around praying, saying, ‘Dear Lord, just supervise us.'”

Ida was poised to strike Louisiana 16 years to the day after Cyclone Katrina devastated the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. A Classification 3 storm, Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths and triggered levee breaches and devastating flooding in New Orleans, which took years to recuperate.

” We’re not the exact same state we were 16 years back,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards stated Saturday, pointing to a federal levee system that’s seen major improvements because Katrina overloaded New Orleans in 2005.

” This system is going to be tested,” Edwards said. “Individuals of Louisiana are going to be tested. However we are resistant and tough people. And we’re going to get through this.”

Edwards stated 5,000 National Guard soldiers were being staged in 14 parishes for search and rescue efforts with high-water automobiles, boats and helicopters. And 10,000 linemen were on standby to react to electrical failures.

A tropical anxiety 2 days earlier, Ida was enhancing so rapidly that New Orleans authorities stated there was no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of the city’s 390,000 homeowners, a job that would need collaborating with the state and surrounding locales to turn highways into one-way routes away from the city.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell required a voluntary evacuation and reiterated Saturday that the time to safely leave was growing short. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, stated the city might be under high winds for about 10 hours. Officials warned those who stayed to be prepared for long power interruptions amid sweltering heat in the days ahead.

Ramsey Green, the city’s top infrastructure authorities, stressed that the levee and drainage systems securing the city have actually been much improved since Katrina.

” That stated, if we see 10 to 20 inches of rain over a shortened amount of time, we will see flooding,” he stated.

In Washington, President Joe Biden on Saturday called Ida “extremely dangerous” and prompted Americans “to focus and be prepared.”

Lines at gas pumps and car rental companies grew long as residents and travelers alike hastened to leave Saturday.

” We were willing to wait it out however the hotel stated we needed to leave,” stated visitor Lays Lafaurie of Fort Worth, Texas, waiting in a rental vehicle line at the city’s airport. “They stated we had to leave by 7 tomorrow early morning. If we ‘d waited that long there wouldn’t have actually been any automobiles left.”

Ida presented a danger far beyond New Orleans. A cyclone caution was issued for nearly 200 miles (320 kilometers) of Louisiana’s shoreline, from Intracoastal City south of Lafayette to the Mississippi state line. A hurricane warning was extended to the Alabama-Florida line, and Mobile Bay in Alabama was under a storm surge watch.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey stated a state of emergency Saturday for the state’s coastal and western counties, cautioning Ida might bring flooding and tornadoes there.

In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves advised residents to remain off of interstate highways to make room for people evacuating from Louisiana. He said 19 shelters had actually opened to take in evacuees. A number of casinos on the Mississippi coast had actually closed ahead of Ida.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters, who flew typhoon missions for the federal government and founded Weather Underground, said Ida is forecast to move through “the just absolute worst location for a typhoon.”

The Interstate 10 passage between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is an important hub of the country’s petrochemical industry, lined with oil refineries, gas terminals and chemical factory. Entergy, Louisiana’s major electricity supplier, operates 2 nuclear power plants along the Mississippi River.

A U.S. Energy Department map of oil and gas facilities shows ratings of low-lying websites in the storm’s predicted path that are noted as possibly vulnerable to flooding. Phillips 66 said it was shutting operations at its refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.

Numerous filling station in and around New Orleans were out of gas, and the few still open had lines more than a lots vehicles deep.

Mike Laurent of Marrero, Louisiana, was filling about a dozen gas containers to sustain his generator and those of loved ones. Laurent said his household prepared to weather the storm at home despite issues about whether the nearby levee would hold.

” I don’t think it’s ever been checked like it’s going to be tested tomorrow or Monday,” Laurent stated. “I bought a dozen life jackets, simply in case.”

Ida was a Classification 2 hurricane late Saturday night with maximum continual winds of 105 mph (168 kph). The storm was centered about 235 miles (375 kilometers) southeast of seaside Houma, Louisiana, and taking a trip northwest at 16 mph (26 kph). Ida’s core was also about 145 miles (235 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Cuba started to clean up Saturday after Ida tore through Isla de la Juventud and then western parts of the mainland. The storm fell trees and damaged crops and structures. There were no reported deaths.


Associated Press authors Stacey Plaisance and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland; Frank Bajak in Boston; Michael Biesecker in Washington and Andrea Rodríguez in Los Palacios, Cuba, contributed to this report.

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