The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday that Ida made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, with winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour.
Ida is expected to move to the northeast early Monday morning, the center said in its latest bulletin.
The arrival of the hurricane with such force could flood many areas of Louisiana's coast as the state faces a jump in hospital casualties.
Shops were barricaded behind wooden planks and sandbags, and residents of New Orleans, the state's largest city, followed authorities' instructions by evacuating or sheltering inside their homes, while Hurricane Ida raised fears of catastrophic damage.
The memory of Hurricane Katrina, which touched the earth on 29 August 2005, exactly 16 years ago, remains painful in Louisiana. The hurricane killed more than 1,800 people and caused tens of billions of dollars in heavy rains.
Austin Soriano and his 16-year-old brother help their father put large wooden planks on their family watch repair shop, near a large Street in New Orleans. "We're trying to fortify the store before the hurricane so that people don't try to steal us," Austin said. "Everyone is afraid because it's the memory of Hurricane Katrina and people didn't take that seriously at the time," he said.
President Joe Biden, who called on residents to prepare during a televised address Saturday afternoon, announced that hundreds of experts would be sent to intervene urgently and prepare water, food, and generator reserves.
"If you receive an evacuation order or if you can leave, please leave," the U.S. Weather Service wrote on Twitter. The conditions will be devastating."
"Time is not on our side," said LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans, a city that could be severely affected by the hurricane.
Minor damage in Cuba
Hurricane Ida passed Friday evening on Cuba's southwestern coast, causing little damage, thousands of people evacuating their homes, and cutting off power as a precaution.
The hurricane continued on Saturday afternoon and became a Category 2 hurricane on a five-category scale, with high winds of up to 160 km/h. During the night, the hurricane moved into category 3 and then 4, with winds of up to 209 km/h, according to the U.S. Hurricane Center.
"I know it's very painful to think that a new severe storm like Hurricane Ida could hit the ground on this anniversary," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said. "But we're not the same state as it was 16 years ago, we have a hurricane-related risk reduction system," he said, adding that the system "will be subject to a difficult test."
Southern Louisiana could be devastated and flooded, with up to 50 cm of rain in some places.
As the ocean surface warms, hurricanes become more severe, scientists say. In particular, they pose an increased threat to coastal populations who are victims of the phenomenon of flooding, which is amplified by the high level of ocean water.
Hurricane Ida and The Delta Mutated
"A long-term power outage will be almost certain," warned New Orleans official Colin Arnold. "Please take this storm seriously," he said.
John Bel Edwards said about 10,000 power grid operators are ready to respond to power outages and this number will soon double. The Louisiana National Guard was mobilized.
The hurricane threatens an area of health alert: The mutated has hit the Louisiana Delta, which has vaccinated only a small percentage of its population, weakening its hospital system with nearly 2,700 hospital casualties and deaths equivalent to the toll recorded at the height of the epidemic.
"If you have to go to a shelter, make sure you put the muzzle on and try to keep it apart," said President Biden, who declared a state of emergency in Louisiana.