After gaining strength overnight, Hurricane Ida arrived in the state of Louisiana at 11:55 a.m. this Sunday (29) local time (13:55 GMT) as a dangerous Category 4 storm, prompting those who did not left the region to prepare for the most difficult test of billions of dollars invested in improvements after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the region 16 years ago.
In his speech Sunday on the arrival of the phenomenon in the United States, President Joe Biden did not brown the pill and warned that Ida’s devastation must be “immense”, even for regions far from the coast, and that the hurricane constitutes a “threat”. to the life”.
Depending on the officer, some places can take weeks to restore power. “As soon as the storm has passed, we will put all the might of the country into rescue and recovery,” he pledged. About 500 federal emergency responders have already been deployed to Texas and Louisiana.
As soon as the phenomenon hit the United States, hurricane-force winds spread within a 50-mile radius outside Ida’s Eye, forcing New Orleans to suspend emergency services so that the storm was heading northwest at 13 mph. So far, more than 300,000 homes and businesses are already without power, most in the southeastern region of the state, according to the PowerOutage website.
On the banks of the Mississippi River, the city was surrounded by hundreds of miles of levees after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, which passed exactly 16 years ago, inundating predominantly black neighborhoods and killing 1,800 people.
The investment was US $ 14 billion (72.7 billion reais), but some warn that it is insufficient to deal with the consequences of climate change, such as history professor Andy Horowitz, who wrote the book “Katrina: A History, 1915-2015”.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has said Ida will be one of the most severe storms of modern times. According to him, the state “has never been so prepared”, guaranteeing that none of the dikes will be crossed – except for some in the southeast region which were not built by the federal government. “[A estrutura] Will it be tested? Yes, but it was built for this moment, “he said at a press conference.
Ida appeared three days ago as a tropical storm in the Caribbean Sea, but quickly evolved into Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with winds of 240 km / h, according to the National Hurricane Center ( NHC).
The force of the gale and rain shook the palms of New Orleans, where Robert Ruffin, 68, fled with his family from his home in the eastern part of the city to stay at a downtown hotel . “I thought it would be safer,” he said. Hours later, however, the windows on the third floor were shattered by the force of the wind.
The NHC has also warned of potential catastrophic damage and up to 24 inches of rain in some areas. Offshore, storm waves of over 1.83 m were already forming. Parts of the road along the Louisiana and Mississippi coast have turned into a choppy river, according to videos posted on social media.
Not everyone was able to leave their home. Sharon Weston Broome, mayor of Baton Rouge, the state capital, stayed at home with her husband, Marvin. By phone, he said he had kept valuables and important documents safe in a secure part of the house while his wife ran the town of 224,000 people.
Residents who had to stay in the houses were recommended to take refuge in a closet or in the bathroom, if there was no room prepared for this.
The governor warned that the arrival of emergency services could take up to 72 hours. Some counties have also imposed curfews from Sunday evening, banning traffic on the streets. Evacuation orders in low-lying and coastal areas had already been issued, leading to traffic jams, with some service stations running out of fuel.
Hospitalized patients could not be evacuated, however, according to Governor Edwards, which creates a double problem, since in addition to Ida, the state has recently experienced a spike in Covid-19 cases. However, the trend is already downward, with 27% fewer infections in the variation of the last 14 days.
Vaccination, on the other hand, is below the national average. While in the United States 52% are fully immune, in Louisiana it is only 41%. According to the governor, hospitals are treating 2,450 coronavirus patients, many of whom are close to capacity.