Many Louisiana residents rushed for the borders on Saturday as the state braced for the “extremely dangerous” Hurricane Ida to make landfall on Sunday with winds of up to 130 mph and a life-threatening storm surge. Almost sixteen years to the day that Hurricane Katrina unleashed devastation on the state, Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that Ida could be even worse. Ida, which the National Hurricane Center warned on Saturday would be “extremely dangerous” and “strengthen rapidly before landfall,” will be “one of the strongest hurricanes that hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” Edwards said at a Saturday press conference. Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said Ida could hit the northern Gulf of Mexico coast with wind gusts of up to 160 mph on Sunday afternoon. The dire predictions sparked a wave of evacuation orders across Louisiana. “Time is not on our side. It’s just rapidly growing. It’s intensifying,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell told residents on Saturday, urging them to evacuate. “This storm in no way will be weakening,” she said.
Some residents, for whom the horrors of Hurricane Katrina were still fresh, were not taking any chances. “I did Katrina once,” a New Orleans resident named Heather Zeller told The New Orleans Advocate as she prepared to leave for Florida. “I can’t do this again.”