Hurricane Ida made landfall along parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast on Sunday as a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour.
Ida could inundate much of the Louisiana shoreline as the state grapples with a COVID surge already taxing hospitals.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Sunday said it appeared hundreds of thousands living in low-lying areas had evacuated, but evacuating COVID patients was not an option.
“Evacuating these large hospitals is just not an option because there are not any other hospitals with the capacity to take them… This is a major, major storm that is going to test us in ways that we've not been tested before for a lot of reasons, but this COVID situation is certainly one of them.”
New Orleans residents braced for the storm. Bourbon Street was practically deserted Sunday morning and businesses were boarded up.
Local Janette Cole said she hopes for the best but fears for the worst.
"Well, I mean, I believe in my city. I believe that, you know, things are going to work out. I'm just afraid that this will be another Hurricane Katrina."
U.S. President Joe Biden tracked the hurricane from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sunday.
“I want to emphasize again. This is going to be a devastating – a devastating hurricane. A life-threatening storm. So please. All you folks in Mississippi. Louisiana, Mississippi and God knows, maybe even further east. Take precautions. Take it really very seriously.”
It’s the first major test of the state’s levee system since Katrina in 2005… 16 years ago to this very day.
Governor Edwards said Ida could be the state's worst direct hit by a hurricane since the 1850s.