New Orleans braces for Hurricane Ida, expected to hit as a Category 4 storm

Credit: CBSNews
Credit: CBSNews

▶ Watch Video: New Orleans braces for Hurricane Ida as it barrels toward the southern U.S.

Hurricane Ida could cause big problems for New Orleans, even if it doesn’t make a direct hit. The storm is bearing down on The Big Easy and is expected to come ashore in the U.S. as a Category 4 storm. 

It could make landfall 16 years to the day after the Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. 

The storm on Saturday was moving north over the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to rapidly intensify. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion on Saturday, forecasters said in a morning advisory. The storm, they say, is expected to become an “extremely dangerous major hurricane.”

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has called for the mandatory evacuation of all New Orleans residents outside the city’s protective levee system and a voluntary evacuation for those inside it.  

Cars were stacked bumper to bumper on Interstate 10 on Friday as people were looking to get out, CBS News’ Omar Villafranca reports.

Many stores were already struggling to keep up with demand during pandemic-fueled supply shortages.

“Shopping during COVID is always hard but it’s a little bit harder now,” said Nicole Liggio, a resident of Metairie, Louisiana.

Tropical Weather Atlantic
Michael Richard of Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts boards up Crescent City Pizza on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter before landfall of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, August 28, 2021.

Matthew Hinton / AP

Health officials are concerned about COVID-19 spreading in shelters. Less than half of all Louisiana residents are vaccinated, and cases hit an all-time high in the state less than two weeks ago.

“Please make sure you are making plans to stay healthy and safe and the way you do that is by masking when you are not with people that— when you are with people that you don’t normally live with,” said Dr. Jennifer Begnaud, head of the New Orleans Health Department.

In coastal St. Bernard’s Parish, the race was on to get boats out of the water.

“Nobody was out there shrimping today, opening day of shrimp season,” said George Barisich, a shrimper. “So that ought to tell you. When I got in this morning, late last night … about 75, 80% of the boats already left.”

For those staying behind, Mayor Cantrell had one final message: “Shelter in place. Hunker down. It is vitally important.”