New Orleans Mayor Says Hurricane Ida Moving Too Fast to Order Evacuation

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) has claimed Hurricane Ida's rapid push towards Lousiana has meant mandatory evacuation and contraflow warnings "would not work."

Mayor Cantrell said the Category 4 hurricane's quick race toward the city was too fast for her to order an effective mandatory evacuation order for the city's residents.

According to WDSU, Mayor Cantrell was told by Lousiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) and the National Weather Service that a contraflow order would not work as there was not enough time to enforce it by the time Ida had made landfall.

She explained why she did not order a mandatory evacuation order or a contraflow, a measure where all lanes of traffic would move in a single direction while speaking to the station.

Mayor Cantrell said: "It would not work. We don't have the time."

In response to her decision to make evacuations voluntary, Mayor Cantrell added: "As it relates to a category, it really does depend upon the time, and the state decides whether or not you implement contraflow.

"However, when you look at the rate of these storms that we're having, Ida is no different. We've seen this and we've been talking about this, especially based on the season that we had in 2020. I think about even Michael, how it came so fast and so soon. You don't have time to evacuate thousands of people. And the worst case is people stuck on the interstate."

In a message sent to residents on Saturday afternoon, Mayor Cantrell said: "The City of New Orleans has called for a mandatory evacuation for areas located outside the levee system, including Lake Catherine, Irish Bayou and Venetian Isles. Residents in those areas must evacuate now."

The updated warning, seen by Newsweek, added: "The City is also calling for a voluntary evacuation for all of Orleans Parish residents inside the levee system. Dangerous winds and rain pose a significant threat inside the levees and widespread, extended power outages are likely to occur. Residents planning to shelter in place are encouraged to complete preparations as soon as possible. Parking on neutral grounds and sidewalks is now allowed."

Mayor Cantrell continued, stating the city is now preparing for a post-storm response and that officials had been in direct communication with residents on the special needs registry as well as those with severe medical conditions.

Newsweek has contacted the City of New Orleans for comment.

Hurricane Ida was quickly upgraded to a category 4 storm earlier this morning and it now has sustained winds of 140mph, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center.

The NHC update also read: "Dangerous category 4 Hurricane Ida strengthens some more...Life-threatening storm surge, potentially catastrophic wind damage, and flooding rainfall will impact portions of the Northern Gulf coast beginning later this morning."

As the dire situation surrounding Hurricane Ida became clear, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport announced flights in and out had been canceled.

#HurricaneIda Update: All arriving and departing flights scheduled for tomorrow (Sun. 8/29) have been cancelled due to anticipated hurricane.

— New Orleans Airport (@flyneworleans) August 29, 2021

The update read: "All arriving and departing flights scheduled for tomorrow (Sun. 8/29) have been canceled due to anticipated hurricane."

Hurricane Ida could be one of the strongest storms to hit Louisiana since the 1850s, according to Gov. Edwards.

The state has been a victim of devastating storms in the past, with the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina bringing massive destruction when it made landfall in 2005.

Hurricane Ida is set to hit Louisiana
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said there was no time to order evacuations as Hurricane Ida bore down on Louisiana. In this photo, Mayor Cantrell speaks at a COVID-19 memorial service outside the gates of Gallier Hall on January 19, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nearly 700 New Orleanians have lost their lives to the virus. Erika Goldring/Getty Images/Getty