Some who stayed to weather the storm have doubts.

NEW ORLEANS – As high winds and rainfall hit the New Orleans area on Sunday morning, cutting off electricity in some areas and making fr...


NEW ORLEANS – As high winds and rainfall hit the New Orleans area on Sunday morning, cutting off electricity in some areas and making freeway travel unsafe, it was already too late to leave. Still, some people in the city were questioning their decision to stay.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Le-Ann Williams, 30, as she made breakfast and looked at the weather forecast in her apartment in East New Orleans.

Roads west and east of New Orleans were parking lots for much of Saturday as tens of thousands of people tried to get out of the storm’s predicted path. It took Robert Green Sr. 16 hours to get to Houston from New Orleans on Saturday, typically a five-hour drive.

At the same time, thousands more have decided to stay put.

Shawn Kelly intended to leave. He doesn’t have a car, so he’s booked a flight. But on Saturday afternoon, he received a notification that the flight had been canceled and social media posts showed queues of several hours at the airport.

So the stage was set: he would try to weather Hurricane Ida at his parents ‘house in New Orleans’ Uptown – the same place where he and his family tried to ride Katrina in 2005, when he was 10 years old. . At the time, the family had to be rescued, a scenario he hopes not to repeat.

“I wish I could leave because the next two days without power are going to be the worst,” Kelly said. “I’m worried about the consequences, more than the storm, because that was the problem with Katrina; that was the sequel. I am always worried about what comes next.

For the leaders of New Orleans, the question is what will happen to those who remain if Ida’s destruction renders conditions uninhabitable.

The answer is “post-storm evacuation,” said Collin Arnold, the city’s director of emergency preparedness. Urban search and rescue teams have been prepared and buses have been placed on high ground ready to transport people out of town on Monday after the storm has passed.

The town’s seniors often speak with pride of never having evacuated, even in the face of severe storms like Hurricane Betsy in 1965. But Mr Arnold said post-storm rescue plans were not an issue. approval of this bravado, just an acknowledgment that rapid storms like Ida can leave little time for evacuation.

“We don’t choose it intentionally,” he said. “It is climate change that is hurting us.”

Evacuation is a crucial part of the emergency plan in a city where one in five households runs out of cars. But to be effective, the evacuation process must begin 72 hours before a storm hits. And Ida, a storm sprinter, was little more than a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean on Thursday afternoon, when Mayor LaToya Cantrell should have given the order.

“The weather was not on our side,” Ms. Cantrell said on Friday urging residents to voluntarily evacuate, but it was too late for a mandatory order.

Tens of thousands of people weighed their options and decided to fall back. Some were optimistic that the city’s improved levees and pumps would hold up this time around. For others who had already paid their monthly bills, the money was too short to travel now.

“Evacuation will always be the safest option for major hurricanes,” said Arnold. “Before Katrina, there were locals who said, ‘I’m not going for storms.’ Katrina changed that mindset. Now climate change could change it for us again. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Some who stayed to weather the storm have doubts.
Some who stayed to weather the storm have doubts.
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