Biden issues warning as Louisiana begins evacuations before Ida hits

Ida could be the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana since the 1850s: Biden and Governor tell residents to ‘shelter in place by midnight’ as state prepares for 140MPH Category 4 storm to hit on Sunday

  • ‘Pay attention and be prepared,’ President Joe Biden implored Louisiana residents in a press conference today
  •  Category 4 Hurricane Ida is set to hit the state on Sunday or Monday 
  • New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other local authorities urged those who could to evacuate
  • She said those who couldn’t need to be prepared and sheltered in place by midnight tonight 
  • The National Weather Service said that Hurricane Ida, set to make landfall in the US on Sunday, will be ‘life-altering’ and cause ‘catastrophic damage’ to infrastructure with 140MPH winds
  • Westbound traffic on Interstate I-10 near the Bonnet Carre Spillway was at a near standstill as early as 4 am this morning as thousands of New Orleans residents evacuated en-masse 
  • Five thousand National Guardsmen have been deployed to Louisiana as the state was placed under a state of emergency and many residents evacuated
  • As it rapidly approaches the U.S. coast, the storm could reach a Category 4, as much potential for destruction than 2005’s Category 4 Hurricane Katrina 
  • ‘Now is the time to finish preparation,’ Louisiana Gov. John Edwards said Friday. ‘By nightfall tomorrow, you need to be where you [will] ride out the storm.’
  • Ten to 15 feet of rainfall could cover areas around the mouth of the Mississippi River, and lower levels could effect the coastlines of Mississippi and Alabama
  • Tornadoes, widespread power outages and inland flooding from the predicted torrential downpour are expected to dot the region
  • Off the coast, US Oil and gas companies halted more than 1.6 million barrels of oil production Friday as Hurricane Ida cut through the Gulf of Mexico – more than pre-Hurricane Katrina

President Joe Biden urged Louisiana residents to ‘pay attention and be prepared’ today as Hurricane Ida approaches the US Gulf Coast – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said today that the storm will be ‘one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s.’

The impending hurricane, currently at a Category 2, could reach a Category 4 designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale by the time it makes landfall Sunday afternoon or evening – the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina – generating winds up to 140MPH and submerging a mass of Louisiana shoreline under several feet of rainfall. 

Biden implored local authorities to reach out for federal assistance, should they need it, before the projected hurricane makes landfall. 

‘I need to know everything you think we need to do,’ he said at a press conference just before 2 pm. ‘If you haven’t gotten the authority for it, tell me now, we’ll get it done.’

‘Thank you, thank you thank you, everything that you’re doing to prepare for this dangerous storm is going to mitigate the impact and potential…. Disastrous results that will [effect] so many people in the region.’

‘I need to know everything you think we need to do,’ President Joe Biden implored state and local authorities in a Saturday press conference regarding impending Hurricane Ida just before 2 pm. ‘If you haven’t gotten the authority for it, tell me now, we’ll get it done.’

Those who will be weathering the storm were reminded by the President not to forego COVID precautions: ‘if you have to move to shelter, make sure you wear a mask and try to keep some distance – we’re still facing the highly contagious delta variant as well.’ 

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards had a call with Biden on Friday afternoon to synchronize federal and local storm preparation and response plans. Also on the call was FEMA Administrator Deanna Criswell, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez. 

FEMA is pre-positioning food, water, generators and other resources in the at-risk region, the president’s office said Saturday. 

 ‘I know that tomorrow, for many people, is a very difficult anniversary. It is the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I’m also aware that it is very painful to think about another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida making landfall on that anniversary,’ Edwards said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

‘Every storm is different. They all bring their own challenges, but I also want you to know that we’re not the same state we were 16 years ago.’

The Governor said that ‘many, many people are heeding the evacuation orders, both mandatory and voluntary.’ 

Hurricane Ida, currently at a Category 2, could reach a Category 4 designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale by the time it makes landfall Sunday afternoon or evening

The storm could reach a Category 4 designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale by the time it makes landfall, forecasters warned, generating winds up to 140MPH and submerging a mass of Louisiana shoreline under several feet of rainfall

 After battering Cuba on Friday with 80MPH winds, Ida began churning northwest this morning, the National Hurricane Center said. The agency expects the storm to escalate sharply before reaching US shores on Sunday

City officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards shared a call with Biden on Friday afternoon to synchronize federal and local storm preparation and response plans. Also on the call was FEMA Administrator Deanna Criswell, Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez.

Hurricane Ida ‘could be 300 miles long,’ Louisiana Gov. says, and will be ‘one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s’

‘Now is the time to finish your preparation,’ Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference on Friday. ‘By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to ride out the storm’

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell urged residents reminded residents in an earlier press conference that, due to a local COVID surge – hospitals in the city are already at full capacity.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell urged residents reminded residents in an earlier press conference that, due to a local COVID surge – hospitals in the city are already at full capacity. 

She called on those planning to flee from the ‘life-altering’ hurricane to ‘do so immediately’ and for those planning to ride out the storm to finish their preparations and shelter in place as quickly as possible at a 12:30 pm press conference today.

‘This is our time, your time, to prepare yourselves now. This is it,’ she said. 

‘Check on your neighbors, your friends, of course your family, assist them when needed… in Hurricane Katrina, we learned that we are all first responders.’


Heavy traffic clogs Interstate 10 Westbound through Kenner out of New Orleans today as residents outside the city’s protective levees are ordered to evacuate, and those within are encouraged to do so of their own volition


A slurry of evacuating Louisianans flee on Saturday from their homes in Hurricane Ida’s path. The storm is poised to strike Louisiana 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts, causing levee breaches and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, which took years to recover

Boats, trailers and RVs line Louisiana Highway 46 as owners race to get them within the area of levee protection on Saturday before Hurricane Ida hits


New Orleans ordered residents living in the vicinity of the city’s levee system to evacuate and encouraged those living in the rest of the parish to do so voluntarily – since the storm quickly escalated in intensity, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said it wasn’t possible to order a mandatory evacuation for the entire city. Pictured are barely-moving vehicles along Interstate 610, packed with evacuating drivers

‘Expect heavier than normal congestion in New Orleans and the surrounding areas due to Hurricane Ida evacuations,’ the Louisiana Department of Transportation and development advised in a 7:38 am post to Twitter.

Like traffic jams on highways surrounding the city, TSA security lines at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport today are massive


Cloud are looming over the Central Business District in New Orleans before Hurricane Ida’s projected landfall on Sunday. Residents along the Louisiana coast are stocking up on supplies today, and many are evacuating in preparation for what the National Weather Service called a ‘life-altering’ storm


Lines at gas stations flowed into the streets and an Exxon in New Orleans has already closed its pumps because it is out of gas

Drivers flock to a Costco gas station on Saturday, hoping to fill up their tanks before Sunday’s impending hurricane

Terrebonne, Lafourche, Plaquemines, Orleans, St. Charles, Port Fourchon and St. Mary Parish are all mandating evacuations for some or all of their residents, and New Orleans employers must let their employees go home by 6 pm so they have adequate time to seek shelter.

Ida, a tropical depression two days earlier, is strengthening so quickly that New Orleans officials said there is no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of the city’s 390,000 residents, a task that means coordinating with the state and neighboring locales so that inbound lanes on are highways can be converted to shunt traffic away from the city.

A Morgan City man and his neighbors board up his window in preparation for the impending Category 4 hurricane

 Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told residents to begin preparation and hunker down – he was prompted by the approaching storm to declare a state of emergency on Thursday. Here, a business owner on Bourbon Street boards up the windows of his restaurant

Businesses throughout New Orleans’ French Quarter are boarded up today in preparation for the impending historically devastating storm

Crews are rushing today to cover windows with plywood to reduce the impact of menacing Hurricane Ida, which is forecasted to reach New Orleans tomorrow


A St. Charles Parish man boards up his home on Saturday as Hurricane Ida approaches New Orleans. The storm is predicted to cause ‘catastrophic’ damage to infrastructure and buildings


A New Orleans man checks the lock on his front gate after moving his cars off the road on Saturday in preparation for Hurricane Ida’s arrival

Isis Alvarado, 10, and her sister Yulcigi wait for their family to finish packing their car with essential belongings before they evacuate to Florida from Morgan City Louisiana on Saturday

Commercial crabbers in St. Bernard are pictured collecting crab traps on Saturday before the flood wall closes and Hurricane Ida meets the Louisiana coast on Sunday 

City officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours. A Walmart in New Orleans is pictured here with nearly-depleted stocks

Gas is running out at many stations throughout Louisiana and areas in the projected path of Hurricane Ida

A Morgan City man got extra gas tanks, portable air conditioners and multiple generators in preparation for the approaching storm

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon West Broome signed an emergency disaster declaration in preparation for Hurricane Ida’s landfall

Broome said her city had preemptively stationed sand and sandbags at eight strategic locations as the storm approached

By midday Saturday, Ida was centered 380 miles southeast of Houma, a city on Louisiana’s coast. It was traveling northwest at 16MPH, forecasters said. 

It’s maximum sustained winds were 100MPH— Category 2 strength. And forecasters expected it to reach Category 4 strength before making landfall on the central Louisiana coast Sunday evening.

Thousands choosing to get out before the projected Category 4 storm makes landfall are doing so in droves, slowing traffic 

‘I’m imploring you to take this storm seriously, New Orleans Department of Homeland Security Collin Arnold urged at the conference.

‘Finish your preparations today. Be where you need to be, either on the road or in your home, by midnight.’ 

Cantrell said that, due to the limited amount of time until triple-digit winds make conditions prohibitively dangerous for emergency workers, that New Orleans’ strategy will focus on post-storm response rather than preparation ahead of the event.

Emergency personnel ‘will not be able to safely respond during [Ida’s] impact,’ and 911-callers will need to wait on hold, officials said during the conference. Residents were urged not to call emergency services for any matters that were not ‘life-threatening.’

Retired Louisiana State Trooper Troy Leonard (pictured left) helps to distribute sandbags to his family on Saturday

Evacuees from New Orleans’ Charles Parish change a tire on their boat trailer on August 28 as they race to get out of impending Hurricane Ida’s path


Shelves were seen low on stock at a Walmart on Tchoupitolas in New Orleans, Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Ida on Friday. Breads, meats, snacks, canned meats, cases of water, chips and fans are in short supply

Inundated with surrendered pets, Louisiana’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is also at full capacity, and will similarly transition to ‘post-storm operations.’ 

Traffic on Interstate 10 out of New Orleans was heavy, sometimes at a standstill, on Saturday morning. Roads became congested as early as 4 am.

 ‘Expect heavier than normal congestion in New Orleans and the surrounding areas due to Hurricane Ida evacuations,’ the Louisiana Department of Transportation and development advised in a 7:38 am post to Twitter. 

After battering Cuba on Friday with 80 mile per hour winds, Ida began churning northwest this morning, the National Hurricane Center said. The agency expects the storm to escalate sharply before reaching US shores on Sunday. 

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city did not have sufficient time to mandate evacuations inside the levee system, or to open up additional lanes of traffic, known as contraflow, to allow more people to evacuate.  


Gary Sullivan, of Gulf Hills, fills extra gas containers at Marathon Gas, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in Ocean Springs, Miss., in preparation for Hurricane Ida. (Hannah Ruhoff/The Sun Herald via AP)

 ‘Be where you need to be, either on the road or in your home, by midnight,’ he urged.

‘Hundreds of thousands’ of Louisiana residents are attempting to flee, according to Jacob Lanier of local television news station WJTV.

 The city’s emergency planners, simultaneously traumatized and prepared for the worst by Hurricane Katrina, have promised a ‘very robust, very quick, post-storm evacuation.’

 ‘That’s the biggest lesson learned, Katrina,’ Arnold said on Friday. ‘That is on everybody’s mind.’

Expecting heavily-impacted electrical infrastructure, New Orleans has arranged for 125 coach buses to pull out residents after the storm has settled.

The National Hurricane Center warned Saturday morning that Ida is will bring heavy rainfall from southeast Louisiana to costal Mississippi on Sunday and Monday, resulting in ‘life-threatening flash and urban flooding’ and ‘significant river flooding impacts.’


 Shoppers at Costco in New Orleans stocked up on supplies like bottles of water and toilet paper ahead of Hurricane Ida


Bars, businesses and restaurants are all boarding up in New Orleans’ French Quarter in preparation for Hurricane Ida’s projected Sunday landfall


‘Extremely life-threatening inundation of 9 feet or greater’ has been predicted from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi coast. ‘Potentially catastrophic wind damage’ is forecasted, too, and the NHC said today that ‘actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion today in the warning area.’

 ‘Extremely life-threatening inundation of 9 feet or greater’ has been predicted from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi coast. ‘Potentially catastrophic wind damage’ is forecasted, too, and the NHC said today that ‘actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion today in the warning area.’ 

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, 70 percent of homes were damaged to some degree, and more than 1,800 people died. 

Ten to 15 feet of water is expected to collect around the mouth of the Mississippi River, the NHC said, and lower levels of flooding could extend as far east as the coastlines of adjacent Mississippi and Alabama.

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon West Broome signed an emergency disaster declaration, and said her city had preemptively stationed sand and sandbags at eight strategic locations as the storm approached. 

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told residents to begin preparation and hunker down – he was prompted by the approaching storm to declare a state of emergency on Thursday.

‘Now is the time to finish your preparation,’ he told a news conference on Friday. ‘By nightfall tomorrow night, you need to be where you intend to ride out the storm.’ 

‘The people of Louisiana have been tested time and time again, and while it is my hope and prayer that this storm will not bring destruction to our state, we should be prepared to take the brunt of the severe weather,’ he said.

Likewise, Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon West Broome signed an emergency disaster declaration, and said her city had preemptively stationed sand and sandbags at eight strategic locations as the storm approached. 

Two National Guard members enter the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Saturday, which is being set up as a last-resort shelter before Hurricane Ida’s arrival. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards authorized nearly 5,000 National Guardsmen for emergency deployments

National Guardsmen stage rescue boats at the Jackson barracks in New Orleans on Saturday, preparing to rescue residents from the expected floodwaters resulting from Sunday’s hurricane

 Terrebonne Parish officials also told everyone to evacuate, WWL-TV reported.

‘If you can leave on your own, please leave on your own,’ Parish President Gordon Dove said. ‘We are the bullseye by every indication, of everything we have found.’

Heavy rainfall and flooding have already began to affect Mississippi ahead of Ida’s suspected landfall.

President Joe Biden approved a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana ahead of the storm. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that FEMA plans to send nearly 150 medical personnel and almost 50 ambulances to the Gulf Coast to assist strained hospitals.   

Hailey DeLaune of Gulf told Reuters today that she and her fiancée spent Friday evening amassing provisions and boarding up the windows of his house in Gulfport, Mississippi. 

‘Hurricanes have always been part of my life,’ said Delaune, a high school theology teacher who was born during 1992’s Category 5 Hurricane Andrew. ‘You just run through your list and hope for the best.’

Shelves were seen low on stock at a Walmart on Tchoupitolas in New Orleans, Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Ida on Friday. Breads, meats, snacks, canned meats, cases of water, chips and fans are in short supply.

Shoppers at Costco in New Orleans stocked up on supplies like bottles of water and toilet paper ahead of Hurricane Ida. Lines at gas stations flowed into the streets and an Exxon in New Orleans has already closed its pumps because it is out of gas.

City officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Arnold said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours.

Inundated with surrendered pets, Louisiana’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is also at full capacity, and will similarly transition to ‘post-storm operations’

The entrance to the Pontchartrain Causeway in New Orleans displays a high winds warning ahead of Hurricane Ida’s projected Sunday arrival – winds are expected to exceed 140MPH


A mandatory evacuation for those living outside the city’s protective levee system has been ordered by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and those within the levees have been encouraged to do so voluntarily if they are able


Residents line up at the Dryades YMCA to pick up sandbags from a city-run sandbag distribution location in anticipation of Hurricane Ida’s landfall in New Orleans. A state of emergency has been declared there, and residents have been urged to complete their preparations for the storm today

A New Orleans resident hefts sandbags from a city-run distribution center as residents are told to hurry their preparations for the incoming hurricane

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to begin preparation and hunker down – he was prompted by the approaching storm to declare a state of emergency on Thursday

Crews from Southeast Louisiana’s Flood Protection Authority East close a flood gate at the Bonnabel Boat Launch on Saturday in preparation for Hurricane Ida’s projected Sunday landfall

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon West Broome signed an emergency disaster declaration, and said her city had preemptively stationed sand and sandbags at eight strategic locations as the storm approached. Pictured here are residents filling sand bags in Gulfport, Mississippi in preparation

 

 Production cutbacks have exceeded those spurred on in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, the cataclysmic storm that devastated Louisiana, killed 1,800 and destroyed more than 850,000 homes. Preceding the earlier storm, supplies were cut by 1.53 million barrels per day; Hurricane Delta reduced the supply by 1.69 million each day

At Governor Edwards’ request, President Joe Biden issued a pre-landfall federal emergency declaration on Friday. This authorized the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin coordinating disaster relief efforts.  

‘Nobody was out there shrimping today, opening day of shrimp season,’ said George Barisich, a shrimper, to CBS News. ‘So that ought to tell you. When I got in this morning, late last night… about 75, 80 percent of the boats already left.’

Edwards authorized nearly 5,000 National Guardsmen for emergency deployments. More than 2,000 FEMA employees have been deployed to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and are ready to provide additional support as needed.

 Meteorologist Steve Bowen, head of global catastrophe insight at the risk and consulting firm Aon, said the area that was about to get hit is especially vulnerable, with large swaths of industries that could cause environmental damages as well as homes that still have tarps instead of roofs from multiple storms in 2020.

‘It’s not just the coastal impact. It’s not just New Orleans,’ Bowen said. ‘We’re certainly looking at potential losses well into the billions.’

 On Friday, Ida smashed into Cuba’s small Isle of Youth, off the southwestern end of the Caribbean island nation, toppling trees and tearing roofs from dwellings. 

Jamaica was flooded by heavy rains, and there were landslides after the passage of the storm. Many roads were impassable, forcing some residents to abandon their homes.

Ida, the ninth named storm and fourth hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, may well exceed the strength of Hurricane Laura, the last Category 4 storm to strike Louisiana, by the time it makes landfall, forecasters said.

A man using plastic against heavy rainfall caused by Hurricane Ida in Cuba on Friday walks on a road leading to Batabano in the Mayabeque province. After battering Cuba on Friday with 80 mile per hour winds, Ida began churning northwest this morning – it is expected to reach the US this Sunday, 16 years to the date of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in 2005

A car makes its way over a road in Cuba covered with rain by Hurricane Ida on Friday. The storm shows ‘no signs of weakening’ before it reaches US shores, according to the National Weather Service

Cars traverse flooding roads in Cuba on Friday as Hurricane Ida passes through

The region was devastated in August 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people.  

Many roads were impassable, forcing some residents to abandon their homes.

Hurricane Ida was 105 miles west of Havana and traveling northwest at 15MPH by late Friday night.   

As the storm plowed into Cuba on Friday night, the National Weather Service issued a slurry of alarming tweets warning that Hurricane Ida shows ‘no signs on weakening.’

‘If Ida maintains a good inner core it will intensify quickly as it enters the Gulf. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THIS! If you are asked to evacuate, LEAVE or you’re putting your life in danger!’ the NWS asserted.

In another tweet, the NWS wrote: ‘The time to act is NOW. Hurricane Ida is now forecast to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane. This will bring SIGNIFICANT impacts to Southern Louisiana and Southern Mississippi. No major changes to the track at this time, moved just a touch to the east.’

Hurricane Ida is expected to make landfall 16 years to the day of Hurricane Katrina. Pictured here, pumps put in place by the Army Corps of Engineers divert floodwaters from New Orleans’ 17th Street Canal into Lake Pontcharta after the 2005 Hurricane

‘Along with the change to a Category 4 landfall we also now have upgraded to a Hurricane WARNING for parts of southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi. Damaging winds are expected with Ida and could reach the coast by Saturday night.’

The agency said that a storm surge warning is also now in effect for the likelihood of life-threatening storm surge in some areas of southeaster Louisiana and coastal Mississippi – while a storm surge watch is in effect for the potential of life-threatening storm surge for outer areas. 

 In its biggest weekly gain this year, oil prices shot up by two percent on Friday.

 As the storm tore through the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and Friday, energy companies halted the production of 1.6 million oil barrels and airlifted workers from 90 offshore facilities on Friday and the storm ground through the site of 17 percent of the nation’s oil production. 

Production cutbacks have exceeded those spurred on in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, the cataclysmic storm that devastated Louisiana, killed 1,800 and destroyed more than 850,000 homes. Preceding the earlier storm, supplies were cut by 1.53 million barrels per day; Hurricane Delta reduced the supply by 1.69 million each day.

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