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Tropical Storm Ida Upgraded To Hurricane, Forcing Gulf Coast Residents To Evacuate

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Harry Wilmerding Contributor
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Tropical Storm Ida was upgraded to a hurricane Friday and is expected to strengthen as it approaches the Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center confirmed.

The hurricane continues to move over Cuba on Friday and is expected to hit the Gulf coast on Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Louisiana Friday and ordered federal aid to help the state and local response efforts, the White House said in a press release. The order directs the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all relief efforts.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell issued mandatory evacuations in some parts of the city and recommended voluntary evacuations in others, according to city authorities.

“We do have a major storm heading our way,” Cantrell said in a press conference Friday. “We are activating every single resource at our disposal so we are prepared to respond.”

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Forecasts show the hurricane potentially becoming a Category 3 in the next two days, with winds reaching 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. The region forecasts sea levels to rise 7 to 11 feet, with anywhere from 8 to 20 inches of rain.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Thursday in preparation for the hurricane.

“Unfortunately, all of Louisiana’s coastline is currently in the forecast cone for Tropical Storm Ida, which is strengthening and could come ashore in Louisiana as a major hurricane as Gulf conditions are conducive for rapid intensification,” Edwards said. “Now is the time for people to finalize their emergency game plan, which should take into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

The state of emergency allows access to the state’s resources for various response efforts, a press release said.

“This type of threat contains additional problems because the window to prepare is so short. By Saturday evening, everyone should be in the location where they intend to ride out the storm,” Edwards said. (RELATED: Authorities In Nicaragua Find 6 Bodies In Boat Drifting Off Caribbean Coast)

If the storm makes landfall Sunday, it would have arrived 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, which killed roughly 1,200 people and caused an estimated $108 billion in property damages, according to National Geographic.

“We know that Aug. 29 is a very critical date in our city’s history and in all of our collective memories,” Colin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said during a press conference. “But that date has also taught us to be ready to be resilient, and that’s what we’re going to do together.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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