Daily US Times: Hurricane Ida rapidly grew in strength early Sunday. It became a dangerous Category 4 hurricane just hours before hitting the Louisiana coast. Emergency officials in the region grappled with opening shelters for displaced people despite the risks of spreading the Covid-19.
As Ida moved through the northern Gulf of Mexico, some of the warmest ocean water in the world, its top winds grew by 72 kph (45 mph) to 230 kph (150 mph) in five hours. Forecasters were expected that the hurricane will make landfall Sunday afternoon, set to arrive on the exact date Hurricane Katrina ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana 16 years earlier.
Hurricane Ida threatened a region already reeling from a resurgence of coronavirus infections, due to the highly contagious delta variant and low vaccination rates.
Hospitals in New Orleans planned to ride out the storm with their beds nearly full, as similarly stressed hospitals elsewhere had little room for evacuated patients. And shelters for those displaced people carried an added risk of becoming flashpoints for new infections.
On Grand Isle, where Ida appeared to be heading for landfall, the ocean steadily rose as increasingly bigger waves churned Sunday morning.
Ida intensified so swiftly that officials in New Orleans said there was no time to organize a mandatory evacuation of its 390,000 residents.
The city mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents to leave voluntarily.
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