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New Orleans Braces Itself on Katrina Anniversary As Ida Makes Landfall in Lousiana

Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana shores on Sunday as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., rushing from the coast toward New Orleans and one of the nation’s most important industrial corridors. The Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier, coming ashore about 45 miles west of where Category 3 Katrina first struck land.

The rising ocean swamped the barrier island of Grand Isle as landfall came just to the west at Port Fourchon. Ida made a second landfall about two hours later near Galliano. The hurricane was churning through the far southern Louisiana wetlands, with more than 2 million people living in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge up next.

People in Louisiana woke up to a monster storm after Ida’s top winds grew by 45 mph in five hours as the hurricane moved through some of the warmest ocean water in the world in the northern Gulf of Mexico. “This is not the kind of storm that we normally get. This is going to be much stronger than we usually see and, quite frankly, if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told The Associated Press.

Winds tore at awnings and water spilled out of Lake Ponchartrain in New Orleans before noon Sunday. Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a few thunderstorms to a massive hurricane in just three days left no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of the city’s 390,000 residents. Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to leave voluntarily. Those who stayed were warned to prepare for long power outages amid sweltering heat.

New Orleans hospitals planned to ride out the storm with their beds nearly full, as similarly stressed hospitals elsewhere had little room for evacuated patients. And shelters for those fleeing their homes carried an added risk of becoming flashpoints for new infections.

Forecasters warned winds stronger than 115 mph were expected in Houma, a city of 33,000 that supports oil platforms in the Gulf. Comparisons to Katrina, which made landfall on August 29, 2005, weighed heavily on residents bracing for Ida. Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths as it caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and demolished oceanfront homes in Mississippi. Ida’s hurricane-force winds stretched 50 miles from the storm’s eye, or about half the size of Katrina.



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