the essential Sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana this Sunday afternoon. 120 00 homes were without electricity this Sunday evening. Wind gusts of 195 km / h have already been measured.
Classified in category 4 on her arrival on the coast of Louisiana, Ida moved to category 3 in the early evening, the same category as Katrina who had devastated this southern United States in 2005. “Ida is a dangerous Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson (out of 5) scale. Rapid weakening is expected over the next day, but Ida is expected to remain a hurricane until late tonight,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its latest bulletin.
The NHC has warned of the “deadly risk” created by the hurricane and urged residents of affected areas to “take all necessary measures to protect their lives and property.”
TO 19 H 00 local, Ida was still progressing with winds of 195 km / h, slightly less violent than when it made landfall shortly before noon (16 H 00 GMT) at Port Fourchon, at some 160 km south of New Orleans.
Ida’s effects were already being felt further inland, with more than 72 000 households without electricity at midday according to the specialized site poweroutage.us , and the ocean level measured more than one and a half meters above its usual high average in several places, reports the American Hurricane Center (NHC ).
“The next ones 24 at 36 hours are going to be absolutely crucial for us here in Louisiana “, had warned earlier on CNN the governor, saying “believed” that the expensive dike system put in place after the devastation of Katrina in 2005 would “hold”.
In New Orleans, the state’s largest city, already swept by showers and strong gusts of wind on Sunday morning, stores were mostly boarded up with planks of wood and sandbags.
To read also: Louisiana is preparing to face Hurricane Ida, which promises to be “extremely dangerous”
In a neighborhood in the east of the city, a few residents were finishing their preparations. Charles Fields kept all his garden furniture inside his house. “I’m not sure I’m ready but we’ll have to face it well,” he said. “We’ll see how it holds,” said the one who found himself with more than three meters of water in his living room when Katrina passed.
At 130 km away, in the capital Baton-Rouge, a curfew has been announced for the whole part of the city west of the Mississippi River from nightfall until dawn Monday.
“Don’t go out “
Ida “will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit Louisiana in at least years 1800,” John Bel Edwards warned on Saturday. “Do not go out”, therefore hammered all weekend the American meteorological services, which recommend to the inhabitants to take refuge in a room without windows of their residence and to seal itself there for the next ones 24 time.
“Once the hurricane has passed, you should be prepared to stay in the shelter where you are for at least 36 hours, ”State Governor John Bel Edwards said at a press conference.
The memory of Katrina, who made landfall on 24 August , exactly 000 years ago, is still painful in Louisiana: More than 240 people had perished and bad weather caused tens of billions of dollars in damage.
“I know it is very painful to think that a new big storm like Hurricane Ida could make landfall on this anniversary date,” said John Bel Edwards. “But we are not the same State that 000 years ago, we have a hurricane risk reduction system. “
President Joe Biden announced in a televised address on Saturday afternoon that hundreds of emergency response specialists had been dispatched and the provision of water, food and electric generators. Local authorities, the Red Cross and other organizations plan to open “dozens of shelters for at least 000. 000 people, ”the White House added on Sunday .
Hurricane Ida and Delta variant
As the surface of the oceans warms, hurricanes become more powerful, scientists say. In particular, they pose an increasingly significant risk to coastal communities that are victims of wave-submersion phenomena amplified by rising sea levels.
And the hurricane is hitting a region already on the health alert: the Delta variant hit the hardest part of Louisiana, little vaccinated, bringing its hospital system to its knees, with nearly 2700 hospitalized patients and as many daily deaths as at the peak of the pandemic.
The storm therefore comes at “a very difficult time”, said the governor, presenting “extreme difficulties for us, with the hospitals so full of Covid patients”. “Make sure you wear a mask and try to keep your distance,” Joe Biden, who declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, reminded residents forced to go to shelters.