Joe Biden declares ‘major disaster’ in Louisiana as Hurricane Ida hits city of New Orleans

More than 300,000 people have been left without power after category four Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana.

Described as an “extremely dangerous” category four storm, it hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi 16 years earlier.

Hurricane Ida makes landfall – follow live updates

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Inside the eye of Hurricane Ida

Arriving with a barometric pressure of 930 millibars, Ida preliminarily goes down as tied for the fifth-strongest hurricane to make landfall in the US based on wind speed.

Based on central pressure, it is tied for ninth strongest US landfall.

President Joe Biden was warned that the storm is “life-threatening” and that the devastation is “likely to be immense”, with his government “planning for the worst”.

Ida rapidly intensified overnight as it moved through some of the warmest ocean water in the world in the northern Gulf of Mexico, its top winds grew by 45mph to 150mph in five hours.

More on Hurricane Ida

  • Hurricane Ida live: Thousands braced for 150mph winds as category four storm hits Louisiana

  • Hurricane Ida ‘will be one of worst storms to hit Louisiana in 170 years’ and is set to arrive within hours

A news crew reports on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain ahead of approaching Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Image:A news crew reports on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans (Pic: AP)

Hurricane force winds started to strike Grand Isle on Sunday morning.

Before power was lost on the Louisiana barrier island, a beachfront web camera showed the ocean steadily rising as growing waves churned and palm trees whipped.

More than 300,000 customers had lost power in Louisiana within three hours of landfall, according to outages being tracked by Entergy Louisiana.

Mr Biden said it could take weeks for some places to get power back.

A man passes by a section of roof that was blown off of a building in the French Quarter in New Orleans (Pic: AP)
Image:A section of roof is blown off of a building in the French Quarter in New Orleans (Pic: AP)
A man holds a placard hours before the arrival of Hurricane Ida, in Morgan City, Louisiana (Pic: AP)
Image:A man holds a placard hours before the arrival of Hurricane Ida, in Morgan City, Louisiana (Pic: AP)

Officials said Ida’s swift intensification from a few thunderstorms to massive hurricane over three days left no time to organise a mandatory evacuation of its 390,000 residents.

Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell has urged everyone in the city to “stay here from this point forward”.

She said the public should see signs that “we’re moving out of this” on Monday morning, but warned people “not to come out” until they are told to do so.

“My message to the community at this time, all of our residents, even visitors who are here, this is the time to stay inside, do not venture out,” she said.

She called the hurricane a “very dangerous” and “very serious” situation.

In Port Fourchon, boats and helicopters gathered to take workers and supplies to oil platforms in the ocean and the oil extracted starts it journey toward refineries.

The port handles about a fifth of the nation’s domestic oil and gas, officials said.

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Bumpy ride as plane flies through the hurricane

Along with the oil industry, Ida threatened a region already reeling from a resurgence of COVID-19 infections, due to low vaccination rates and the highly contagious delta variant.

More than two million people live around New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the wetlands to the south.

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 115mph were expected soon in Houma, a city of 33,000 that supports oil platforms in the Gulf and Gulfport, Mississippi, to the east of New Orleans was seeing the ocean rise and heavy rains bands.

President Joe Biden approved emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of Ida’s arrival.

A satellite image of Ida making landfall. Pic: @NOAASatellites
Image:A satellite image of Ida making landfall. Pic: @NOAASatellites

Comparisons to the 29 August 2005, landfall of Katrina weighed heavily on residents bracing for Ida.

“Ida will most definitely be stronger than Katrina, and by a pretty big margin,”‘ said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

“And, the worst of the storm will pass over New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which got the weaker side of Katrina.”

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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