Thousands leave New Orleans as Hurricane Ida approaches.

As Hurricane Ida bore down on the Louisiana coast, now projected to arrive as a “life-altering” category 4 storm, thousands were evacuating from New Orleans and other communities in Ida’s projected path.

Forecast to arrive on Sunday evening with 225km/h winds, Ida is likely to come ashore on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the devastating storm that hit New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf coast, killing more than 1,800 people and destroying hundreds of thousands of homes. Katrina arrived in Louisiana as a powerful category 3 storm – weaker than Ida’s projected strength.

The I-10 highway out of New Orleans was gridlocked on Saturday morning after the mayor, LaToya Cantrell, ordered a mandatory evacuation for those living outside the levee protection system and voluntary evacuation for those living inside.

Ida had escalated so quickly, Ms Cantrell said, there had been no time to mandatorily evacuate the entire city.

Vehicles pack a highways almost to a standstill as people leave New Orleans in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Ida. Photograph: Dan Anderson/EPA

Vehicles pack a highways almost to a standstill as people leave New Orleans in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Ida. Photograph: Dan Anderson/EPA

“We are not calling for a mandatory evacuation because the time simply is not on our side,” Ms Cantrell told reporters on Friday evening. “We do not want to have people on the road and therefore in greater danger.”

The impending threat was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Louisiana and other states in the deep south have among the lowest US rates of vaccination, which has enabled the Delta variant to rip through the region, leading to record hospitalisations.

Health officials in New Orleans have not evacuated hospitals due to limited capacity in neighbouring states, despite a roughly 15 per cent fall in state Covid patients over the past week.

“The capacity of hospitals all around this region, from Texas to Florida, is extremely limited,” said the city health director, Dr Jennifer Avegno, on Friday evening.

Federal emergency declaration

On Saturday morning the National Weather Service (NWS) said a region from south-east Louisiana into southern Mississippi could experience tropical force winds from Saturday evening, meaning around 10 hours of powerful gusts, and projected rainfall of between 8in and 16in. New Orleans and other cities in the storm’s projected path, including Baton Rouge and Lafayette, were braced for extended power outages.

On Saturday morning, Ida was centred about 820km south-east of New Orleans, travelling north-west at 25km/h with sustained winds of 136km/h.

Forecasters have warned of life-threatening storm surge of up to 4m in parts of coastal Louisiana, as federal emergency managers in New Orleans cautioned that the surge could top parts of levees on the west bank of the Mississippi. The city’s east bank, with a large population, appeared safe from surges surpassing levee protections, according to officials.

On Friday, US president Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana. The White House announced plans to send 150 medical personnel to the affected region.

The president visited Louisiana three months ago, stopping in Lake Charles, a city still recovering after it was twice battered by powerful hurricanes last year. Biden pledged his administration would assist in recovery and infrastructure development.

“It’s hard to believe that you got hit as badly as you have within the timeframe you have,” Mr Biden said, of hurricanes Laura and Delta, which destroyed parts of the city.

Ida made first landfall on Friday afternoon on Cuba’s Isle of Youth. The Cuban government issued a hurricane warning for its westernmost provinces, where forecasters said as much as 20in of rain could fall, possibly unleashing flash floods and mudslides. – Guardian/AP

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

BREAKING: UK gas supply this winter 'not a cause for immediate concern'.

BREAKING: UK gas supply this winter 'not a cause for immediate concern'.

Kwasi Kwarteng has tried to reassure people in Britain that gas supply this winter was "not a cause for immediate concern" this winter. It comes after the Business Secretary held meetings with Senior Energy Executives to discuss the impact of high...

Sen. Roger Marshall: Democrats’ $3.5T spending plan is ‘reckless’

Sen. Roger Marshall: Democrats’ $3.5T spending plan is ‘reckless’

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., tells ‘CAVUTO Live’ that the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending bill will ‘kill the U.S. economy.’ #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-h...

Smerconish: What social media doesn't show us about Gabby Petito's life.

Smerconish: What social media doesn't show us about Gabby Petito's life.

CNN's Michael Smerconish says new revelations about the negative effects of Instagram and social media made him think about the case of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old who has not been heard from since going on a road trip with her fiance. #Smerconi...

Rep. Troy Nehls: Biden putting Americans last, migrants first

Rep. Troy Nehls: Biden putting Americans last, migrants first

Rep. Troy Nehls, R- Texas, tells ‘Fox News Live’ Biden is providing a ‘pathway to citizenship’ for migrants at the southern border. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a...

France recalls US & Australian ambassadors after 'brutal' nuclear deal.

France recalls US & Australian ambassadors after 'brutal' nuclear deal.

France has recalled their ambassadors in Australia and the US. It follows a deal between the UK, US and Australia - which aims to help Australia obtain nuclear-powered submarines. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twit...

String Quartet Plays Vivaldi on Giant Violin Floating Down Venice Canal.

String Quartet Plays Vivaldi on Giant Violin Floating Down Venice Canal.

Music lovers in Venice were treated to a string quartet playing onboard a large violin-shaped boat as it motored slowly along one of the city's famous canals. The boat - built as a tribute to COVID-19 victims - was launched Saturday, September 18,...

1 217