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New Orleans Will Not Issue Mandatory Evacuations, Contraflow Ahead Of Hurricane Ida

City of New Orleans

Hurricane Ida is approaching New Orleans more rapidly than city officials had initially prepared for, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in an evening press conference Friday.

The storm, now projected to hit the Gulf Coast as a major Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, is moving so fast that the city will not be able to issue a mandatory evacuation for residents or implement contraflow for those evacuating voluntarily. New Orleans is expected to feel the effects of Ida as early as Saturday night.

“It is vitally important. We want our people to be in their safe spaces by, and no later than midnight tomorrow,” said Cantrell.

The National Weather Service said that the levee system of New Orleans is capable of withholding the storm, but areas outside of the levee system could see storm surges up to 11 feet.

Collin Arnold, the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the storm increasing to a category four since Friday morning has given significant changes to the city's preparation, with prolonged power outages being a main issue.

“You have damaging winds up to 110 miles per hour, that can cause prolonged power outages, heavy rain in excess of 16 to 20 inches over two days that could cause significant flooding,” Arnold said.

The biggest lesson learned from Hurricane Katrina, Arnold said, was the six days citizens waited to be moved to safety. Cantrell said to solve this problem preemptively, she has signed paperwork with Gov. John Bel Edwards to bring coach buses to the city in case of the need for a post-storm evacuation.

Cantrell also said all inmates incarcerated in New Orleans are currently on the move to Department of Corrections facilities elsewhere.

As of 7 p.m., Ida is a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm is currently about 90 miles southwest of Havana, Cuba moving northwest at 15 mph.

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