Residents warned as Louisiana braces for Hurricane Ida | National News

Residents warned as Louisiana braces for Hurricane Ida | National News

Ida intensified rapidly Friday from a tropical storm to a hurricane with top winds of 80 mph (128 kph) as it crossed western Cuba. It’s expected to pick up steam as it goes over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

On Saturday morning, Ida was centered 440 miles (710 kilometers) southeast of New Orleans. It was traveling northwest at 16 mph (26 kph), forecasters said. It’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 85 mph (140kph).

In New Orleans, city officials said residents need to be prepared for prolonged power outages, and asked elderly residents to consider evacuating. Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency management director, said the city could be under high winds for about ten hours. Earlier Friday, Cantrell called for a mandatory evacuation for residents outside the city’s levee protections — a relatively small sliver of the city’s population.

Ida would be the latest test of the New Orleans’ aging street drainage system. In a statement Friday, the city outlined steps it was taking to ensure that pumps were working and power sources to those pumps were ready. But, the amount of rain could be enough to overwhelm even a fully functional system.

“We want to be clear, that with the amount of rain now forecasted, approximately 10 inches over the course of the event, it is likely that we will experience flooding,” the city said in a late Friday statement.