President Joe Biden issued a Sunday afternoon update on the federal government’s response to Hurricane Ida, which made landfall in southeastern Lousiana as a Category 4 storm.
“This is going to be a devastating hurricane,” he said at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) headquarters, adding to locals that they should “please take precautions… take it really very seriously.”
The “whole of government” is going to work on storm recovery after Ida’s devastating impacts, the president said, adding that it will “take a long time” for power to be restored in some areas. Biden also warned about heavy rainfall in the area, coming as the National Hurricane Center warning of between 12 and 20 inches of rain falling in the area.
After the update, Biden opted to take questions from reporters. One asked Biden a question about his handling of the U.S. withdrawal and evacuation of Afghanistan, which he declined to answer, before the president left the briefing area.
The administration also deployed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deal with power restoration, according to the White House, including providing temporary housing and response to debris.
Biden previously issued emergency declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of the storm’s arrival.
The hurricane’s northern eyewall made landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana, at around 12:50 p.m. ET, according to the NHC. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and a minimum central pressure of 930 millibars.
2pm CDT: #IDA made a second landfall as a Category 4 hurricane southwest of Galliano, LA. Hurricane conditions are spreading inland across southeast Louisiana. https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/tlSH2AJgXj
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 29, 2021
At 2 p.m., the NHC said the storm made its second landfall near Galliano, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.
Streets in areas of New Orleans are flooded, according to footage posted online, and the NHC said storm surge is already starting to impact the coast. Parts of Grand Isle appear to be completely inundated by storm surge, according to videos posted online.
The rising ocean swamped the barrier island of Grand Isle. The hurricane was churning through the far southern Louisiana wetlands, with the more than 2 million people living in and around New Orleans and Baton Rouge up next.
“This is not the kind of storm that we normally get. This is going to be much stronger than we usually see and, quite frankly, if you had to draw up the worst possible path for a hurricane in Louisiana, it would be something very, very close to what we’re seeing,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told The Associated Press.
Comparisons to the Aug. 29, 2005, landfall of Katrina weighed heavily on residents bracing for Ida. Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths as it caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and demolished oceanfront homes in Mississippi. Ida’s hurricane-force winds stretched 50 miles from the storm’s eye, or about half the size of Katrina.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.