Hurricane Ida strikes Louisiana; New Orleans hunkers down

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By KEVIN MCGILL and JAY REEVES

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Ida blasted ashore on the Louisiana seashore Sunday arsenic 1 of the astir almighty storms ever to deed the U.S. arsenic it rushed toward New Orleans and 1 of the nation’s astir important concern corridors.

The almighty Category 4 tempest with winds of 150 mph (230 kph) deed connected the aforesaid day Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier, coming ashore astir 45 miles (72 kilometers) westbound of wherever Category 3 Katrina archetypal struck land.

The rising water swamped the obstruction land of Grand Isle. The hurricane was churning done the acold confederate Louisiana wetlands, with the much than 2 cardinal radical surviving successful and astir New Orleans and Baton Rouge up next.

“This is not the benignant of tempest that we usually get. This is going to beryllium overmuch stronger than we usually spot and, rather frankly, if you had to gully up the worst imaginable way for a hurricane successful Louisiana, it would beryllium thing very, precise adjacent to what we’re seeing,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told The Associated Press.

People successful Louisiana woke up to a monster tempest aft Ida’s apical winds grew by 45 mph (72 kph) successful 5 hours arsenic the hurricane moved done immoderate of the warmest water h2o successful the satellite successful the bluish Gulf of Mexico.

Wind tore astatine awnings and h2o spilled retired of Lake Ponchartrain successful New Orleans earlier noon Sunday. Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a fewer thunderstorms to a monolithic hurricane successful conscionable 3 days near nary clip to signifier a mandatory evacuation of the city’s 390,000 residents. Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to permission voluntarily. Those who stayed were warned to hole for agelong powerfulness outages amid sweltering heat.

“This is the time. Heed each warnings. Ensure that you structure successful place. You hunker down,” Cantrell told a quality conference.

Nick Mosca, retired walking his canine Sunday greeting earlier the tempest hit, said he’d similar to person been amended prepared.

“But this tempest came beauteous quick, truthful you lone person the clip you have,” Mosca said.

Ida’s 150 mph winds tied it for the fifth-strongest hurricane to ever deed the mainland U.S.

Those winds came done Port Fourchon, wherever boats and helicopters stitchery to instrumentality workers and supplies to lipid platforms successful the water and the lipid extracted starts its travel toward refineries. The larboard handles astir a 5th of the nation’s home lipid and gas, officials said.

Edwards said helium watched a unrecorded video provender from the larboard country arsenic Ida came ashore.

“The tempest surge is conscionable tremendous. We tin spot the roofs person been blown disconnected of the larboard buildings successful galore places,” Edwards said.

Along with the lipid industry, Ida threatened a portion already reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, owed to debased vaccination rates and the highly contagious delta variant.

New Orleans hospitals planned to thrust retired the tempest with their beds astir full, arsenic likewise stressed hospitals elsewhere had small country for evacuated patients. And shelters for those fleeing their homes carried an added hazard of becoming flashpoints for caller infections.

Forecasters warned winds stronger than 115 mph (185 kph) were expected soon successful Houma, a metropolis of 33,000 that supports lipid platforms successful the Gulf.

Gulfport, Mississippi, to the eastbound of New Orleans, was seeing the water emergence and dense rainfall bands. Empty tons wherever homes stood earlier Katrina are inactive communal successful coastal Mississippi, and Claudette Jones evacuated her location to the eastbound of Gulfport arsenic waves started pounding the shore.

“I’m praying I tin spell backmost to a mean location similar I left,” she said. “That’s what I’m praying for. But I’m not definite astatine this point.”

Comparisons to the Aug. 29, 2005, landfall of Katrina weighed heavy connected residents bracing for Ida. Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths arsenic it caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding successful New Orleans and demolished oceanfront homes successful Mississippi. Ida’s hurricane unit winds stretched little than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the storm’s eye, oregon little than fractional the size of Katrina.

Ramsey Green who is successful complaint of infrastructure for the metropolis of New Orleans emphasized Sunday earlier the worst of the tempest that erstwhile it comes to protections against tempest surge, the metropolis is simply a “very antithetic spot than it was 16 years ago.”

Water should not penetrate the levee system, which has been massively overhauled since Katrina. But if forecasts of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rainfall travel true, the city’s underfunded and neglected web of pumps, underground pipes and aboveground canals apt can’t support up, Green said.

“It’s an incredibly fragile system,” helium said.

About 150,000 customers were already retired of powerfulness arsenic of midday, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide.

Hurricane Ida astir doubled successful strength, going from an 85 mph tempest to a 150 mph tempest successful conscionable 24 hours, which meteorologists called “explosive intensification.”

“Ida volition astir decidedly beryllium stronger than Katrina, and by a beauteous large margin,’ said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. “And, the worst of the tempest volition walk implicit New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which got the weaker broadside of Katrina.”

The portion getting Ida’s worst could look devastation to its infrastructure, which includes petrochemical sites and large ports, said Jeff Masters, a erstwhile NOAA hurricane huntsman meteorologist and laminitis of Weather Underground.

The state’s 17 lipid refineries relationship for astir one-fifth of the U.S. refining capableness and its 2 liquefied earthy state export terminals vessel astir 55% of the nation’s full exports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Louisiana is besides location to 2 atomic powerfulness plants, 1 adjacent New Orleans and different astir 27 miles (about 43 kilometers) northwest of Baton Rouge.

The Interstate 10 corridor betwixt New Orleans and Baton Rouge is simply a captious hub of the nation’s petrochemical industry, lined with lipid refineries, earthy state terminals and chemic manufacturing plants. Entergy, Louisiana’s large energy provider, operates 2 atomic powerfulness plants on the Mississippi River.

President Joe Biden approved exigency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi up of Ida’s arrival.

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Reeves reported from Gulfport, Mississippi. Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana, Stacey Plaisance and Janet McConnaughey successful New Orleans; Emily Wagster Pettus successful Jackson, Mississippi; Jeff Martin successful Marietta, Georgia; Seth Borenstein successful Kensington, Maryland; Frank Bajak successful Boston; Michael Biesecker successful Washington; Pamela Sampson successful Atlanta; and Jeffrey Collins successful Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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