(Havana) Hurricane Ida hit the southwest coast of Cuba on Friday evening, accompanied by winds and heavy rains, before moving towards Louisiana, where it could rise from category 1 to 4 and become “extremely dangerous”.
Posted on Aug 27, 2021 at 5:50 pm Updated at 9:01 pm
Rigoberto DIAZ Agence France-Presse
At around 8:30 p.m. Ida touched down on Cuban soil in the village of La Coloma in the province of Pinar del Rio (west) with sustained wind speeds of 130 km / h, announced the Cuban Meteorological Institute (Insmet). It moves northwest at a speed of 15 miles per hour.
The hurricane had previously struck the Isle of Youth south of the main island of Cuba, but the winds and rains it brought with it caused little damage to agriculture and residential homes, the roof of which was being demolished.
With the touch of the province of Pinar del Rio, it hit the current epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic on the island, whose health system has been rocked by an explosion of cases in recent weeks. More than 10,000 people were evacuated and the electricity was turned off as a precaution.
Televised footage showed dozens of fallen trees across the province as the seas raged.
In the capital Havana, near this province, public transport was stopped as a precaution at noon and thousands of people were evacuated.
16 years after Katrina
For its part, Louisiana was preparing to face the hurricane expected on Sunday as the 16th anniversary of one of the most violent weather episodes in the area approached: Katrina.
Hurricane Ida could then climb from Category 1 to Category 4 on a scale of 5, according to the latest bulletin from the American Hurricane Center (NHC).
It could then become “a major hurricane” and “extremely dangerous”, potentially bringing winds in excess of 200 km / h, the NHC warned.
Joe Biden approved a declaration of emergency for Louisiana on Friday to provide “state assistance” to the preparedness effort, with voluntary and compulsory evacuation orders being issued in some locations.
“The president will be closely monitoring this situation and will keep abreast of developments over the weekend,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
“This is an extreme challenge for our state,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement as his state is currently facing a new outbreak of COVID-19 that is bringing hospitals to their knees.
“It is time for the people of Louisiana to prepare,” urged Mr. Bel Edwards, who said that each resident should be in a safe shelter by Saturday night.
“Make sure you and your family are prepared for any eventuality,” he pleaded.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell admitted it was too late for evacuations: “We are not asking for mandatory evacuation because time is not on our side. We don’t want people to be on the move and thus in greater danger, ”she said at a press conference.
“The situation is much more serious than it was six hours ago,” she said, anticipating possible damage.
“We are on the east side of the storm, we expect significant effects,” she tweeted earlier.
Louisiana, a southern state in the country, is frequently hit by hurricanes. And has not yet fully healed the wounds from the trauma of 2005 when Katrina devastated Louisiana and claimed more than 1,800 lives.
During this traumatic episode, New Orleans was 80% flooded when the levees protecting the city gave way.
As the surface of the oceans warms up, hurricanes get stronger, according to scientists. In particular, they pose an increasingly significant risk to coastal communities falling victim to underwater phenomena exacerbated by sea level rise.
Last week, tropical storm Henri, accompanied by record rainfall, struck the northeastern United States, a rare event for the region that left thousands of people without electricity.