The National Hurricane Center has warned that Hurricane Ida could be magnificiently destructive, due to which the US has deployed 500 FEMA emergency personnel in Texas and Louisiana to deal with Ida's projected landfall on the Gulf Coast. "I've already signed an emergency declaration for Louisiana. [...] We deployed 500 FEMA emergency personnel in Texas and Louisiana," said President Joe Biden on Saturday (local time) during a video conferencing with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Biden also discussed the ongoing preparations for Hurricane Ida, which is projected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast as a dangerous major hurricane on Sunday (local time), said a White House statement.
During the meeting, NHC director Kenneth Graham briefed Biden on Ida's projected path and reported that the Gulf Coast was already beginning to feel the effects of the storm, a White House statement said.
According to the statement, the President then called FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and began by thanking the 200 Federal personnel on the watch floor who have been working nights and weekends for a long time to assist with the COVID-19 response, Tropical Storm Henri, the tragic flooding in Tennessee, other extreme weather events, and now Hurricane Ida.
They also discussed ongoing evacuation efforts of Parishes in the storm's path, as well as the voluntary evacuation of New Orleans.
Criswell told the President that 13 Urban Search and Rescue teams are in place to respond to the needs of people who are not able to get out.
Being asked about preparations for nursing homes, he said that more than 100 ground ambulances and 20 air ambulances have been deployed to support evacuations of nursing homes in the storm's path.
They also talked about the impact of anticipated hurricane-force winds and concerns about widespread power outages, and Administrator Criswell described how the US Army Corps of Engineers has prepositioned power restoration experts and hundreds of generators, the statement read.
Ida was poised to strike Louisiana 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. A Category 3 storm, Katrina was blamed for 1,800 deaths and caused levee breaches and catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, which took years to recover.
Yesterday, Biden spoke with the Governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to make clear that States have the full support of the Federal government to provide assistance as needed and to aid local emergency response efforts.
The President approved an Emergency Disaster Declaration for the State of Louisiana, authorizing emergency preparation and protective measures, including direct Federal assistance such as power generation, air transportation assets, wildlife management assistance, and water management for all 64 parishes in Louisiana, it added.