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Hurricane Ida hits Louisiana

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says Ida could be the State’s worst direct hit by a hurricane since the 1850s.

Hurricane Ida made landfallin Louisiana on Sunday, August 29, 2021, as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, forcing those who did not flee to brace themselves for the toughest test yet of the billions of dollars spent on levee upgrades following Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago.

Ida gathered strength overnight and made landfall near PortFourchon, Louisiana, at 11:55 a.m. CDT (16:55 GMT), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Hurricane-strength winds extended50 miles (80 km) out from Ida’s eye, forcing New Orleans tos uspend emergency medical services as the storm crawled northwest at 21 km per hour.

Hundreds of miles of new levees were built around New Orleans after the devastation of Katrina, which made landfall 16 years ago to the day, inundating historically Black neighborhoods and killing more than 1,800 people.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Ida could be the state’s worst direct hit by a hurricane since the 1850s. More than 122,000 Louisiana homes and businesses had already los telectricity, mostly in the state’s southeast, according to the tracking site Power Outage.

Hospitals were already treating some 2,450 COVID-19 patients, Mr. Edwards said, with many in some of the State’s parishes already nearing capacity.

Just three days after emerging as a tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea, Ida had swelled into a Category 4 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with top sustained winds of 240 km per hour, the NHC said.

Palm trees trembled as rain blasted in sideways through NewOrleans on Sunday, where retired 68-year-old Robert Ruffin had evacuated with his family to a downtown hotel from their home in the city’s east.

"I thought it was safer," he said. "It’s double trouble this time because of COVID."

Hours later, howling winds sucked out windows on the hotel’s third floor and blue curtains were seen fluttered outside.

In the capital of Baton Rouge, Marvin Broome said he had no choice but to stay home because his wife is the Mayor, SharonWeston Broome. The 73-year-old English teacher said in a phone interview he was stashing family valuables and important papers in a safe part of their home while Mayor Broome dealt with preparations for the city of 224,000.

The NHC also warned of potentially catastrophic wind damageand up to two feet (61 cm) of rainfall in some areas.

The National Weather Service station in New Orleans urged residents who have no interior rooms in their home tomove to a closet or bathroom for protection. Some parishes imposed curfews beginning Sunday evening, forbidding people from going outside.

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