From Staff Reports
Tropical Storm Ida was upgraded to Hurricane Ida this afternoon as it swirled toward a strike on Cuba on Friday as a rapidly intensifying storm that could speed across warm Gulf waters and slam into Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center warned.
Perry County Emergency Management Director Colby Prine said residents shouldn’t wait to prepare for the storm. Perry County officials announced a local declaration of emergency late Thursday afternoon ahead of the storm. Prine said the declaration was issued as a precaution to ensure resourced would be available.
“Forecasted rainfalls for the county is expected to be four to eight inches and 10 to 12 inches in some areas,” Prine said.
“The storm is expected to be a strong Category 3 hurricane when it makes landfall.”
The National Weather Service has projected Ida will be at least a Category 3 storm and expects it will make landfall near central Louisiana. Gulf waters are uncharacteristically hot presently, which could cause quick intensification of the storm.
If that forecast holds true, Ida would hit 16 years to the day since Hurricane Katrina landed as a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds near the riverside community of Buras in Plaquemines Parish, just down the Mississippi from New Orleans. Buras and New Orleans are among the places that show the highest probabilities for getting hit with hurricane-force winds from Ida, the national hurricane center said.
“We should begin to see tropical conditions Sunday afternoon,” Prine said. “Hurricane conditions will start to come in early Monday morning.”
“Sand bags are available for residents who need them. They are located at the New Augusta Fire Department.”
Hurricane Ida is expected to strengthen as it moves up the Gulf of Mexico. Officials are urging county residents to prepare for the incoming storm to protect lives and personal property. There are several simple preparation steps that can be taken ahead of the storm so you aren’t caught off-guard.
Make sure you have an evacuation plan in place, whether it be your local shelter, family or friends out of the storm’s path or a hotel. If you plan to ride out the storm at home, be sure you have a ‘Plan B.’ Be sure to fill your vehicle’s gas tank and get cash to have on hand after the storm passes in case of power outages. If you plan to leave your home before the storm, or if you have to evacuate during the storm, be sure to turn off your water and gas and unplug electronics. If you are leaving vehicles behind, be sure to park them on high ground to avoid potential flooding.
Whether you choose to stay home or evacuate, it’s best to prepare an emergency kit. Traffic can get congested and back up during heavy evacuations, and accidents can happen anywhere. An emergency kit should include food, water, first aid supplies, clothing, blankets, a few basic tools and important documents. All items should be stored in a watertight container in an easily accessible area of your home or automobile.
Several things can be done to prevent damage to your home during a storm. Board up windows that could be damaged during the storm by flying debris. Secure large outdoor objects that could become a potential hazard, such as children’s toys, outdoor storage containers, grills, trampolines, bicycles, garbage cans and flower pots. Be sure to remove hanging items such as wind chimes and bird feeders as well, as those items can become projectiles in strong winds.