Hurricane Alert on the US Gulf Coast.
Exactly 16 years after the death storm “Katrina” (1,800 dead, 125 billion dollars in damage), people in the metropolis of New Orleans (Louisiana) are shaking again with devastating devastation from a monster hurricane.
Cyclone “Ida” intensified dramatically on Sunday night after passing through Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico. The water temperatures here are exceptionally high at around 30 C – it is the ideal fuel for the monster storm.
Meteorologists expect an impact on the Louisiana coast on Sunday with winds of 225 kilometers per hour. Ida would be a Category 4 hurricane, the second highest on the scale.
Politicians, experts and authorities warned of a historic natural disaster:
▶ ︎ Extreme winds can cause houses to collapse, electric pylons can buckle and trees can be felled.
▶ ︎ Most dangerous: the storm surge! It is the mass of water that the cyclone pushes in front of it and that decimates stretches of coast like a tsunami. It is warned that the tidal wave could reach heights of up to 4.2 meters.
▶ ︎ In addition, there is torrential rain with forecast rainfall of 381 millimeters. A flood disaster threatens. There are also warnings against destructive tornadoes.
The weather service “National Weather Service” warned in apocalyptic tones about “Ida”: The storm could become “life-changing” for the residents and cause “catastrophic damage”.
On Saturday there were already scenes of a mass exodus from the New Orleans area: traffic practically came to a standstill on the I-10 freeway. At Louis Armstrong International Airport, people who were leaving on scheduled flights crowded. The airport was expected to close on Sunday at the latest.
But time was too short for a complete evacuation of the city with 390,000 inhabitants, Mayor LaToya Cantrell (49) had to admit. There were only compulsory evacuation orders in a few coastal and low-lying areas.
Long queues formed at gas stations when drivers wanted to fill up again for fear of fuel shortages. In the world-famous “French Quarter”, shop windows and bars were nailed up with plywood planks, and shelves in supermarkets were cleared.
“Now it is time to complete the preparations,” said Louisiana’s Governor John Edwards (54) on Friday: “When it gets dark tomorrow, you have to be where you want to weather the storm.”
The Democrat went on to implore that “Ida” could become “one of the strongest hurricanes in Louisiana since at least 1850”. A state of emergency was declared for the state and the National Guard mobilized. The disaster control authority FEMA took emergency reserves, generators and personnel into position.
President Joe Biden, 78, urged residents “to pay attention and prepare”.
“Ida” has already caused a dramatic reduction in oil production during the raging in the Gulf of Mexico: Due to the shutdowns and evacuations of oil and gas production facilities, capacities were throttled by 1.6 million barrels on Friday – even more than at the time of hurricane ” Katrina “.
Memories of Death Storm “Katrina”
On August 29, 2005, cyclone “Katrina” crashed east of New Orleans against the coast after the storm had previously reached wind speeds of 280 km / h. At first it seemed like the city got away with a black eye. But then the dams broke: people drowned helplessly in attics, and the dead drifted through flooded city districts.
The coordination of the relief and rescue measures collapsed, survivors had to endure for days under nightmarish conditions in places of refuge such as the “Superdome” or the “Convention Center” without water and food. In the pillory was the then President George W. Bush (75), whose reputation was permanently damaged by the scandalous failure of his government.
After “Katrina”, 14 billion dollars (11.8 billion euros) were invested to strengthen the complex system of dams, pumps and locks. Now there is trembling: Do the dams hold up?