Heavy traffic was seen on the coast as people tried to escape the path of Ida. The National Hurricane Center warned that Ida could become a dangerous Category 4 hurricane. From the coast of Interstate 65 in south Alabama, trucks pulling saltwater fishing boats or campers rushed to their destinations. Interstate 10 was jammed as it headed out of New Orleans.
Bebe McElroy, a Cocodrie resident, said that "we're going to capture it head-on." "I'm just going about praying, saying, Dear Lord. Please watch over us.'
Ida was set to strike Louisiana 16 years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts. Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane, was responsible for 1,800 deaths. It also caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and levee breaches.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Saturday that "We are not the same state as we were 16 years ago." John Bel Edwards spoke Saturday, pointing out the federal levee system's major improvements since Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Edwards stated that the system would be tested. "The people of Louisiana will be tested. But we are strong and resilient. We'll get through it."
Edwards stated that 5,000 National Guard troops were being deployed in 14 parishes to assist with search and rescue operations using high-water boats, helicopters, and high-water vehicles. 10,000 linemen are available to assist in the event of an electrical outage.
Ida, a tropical depression that had formed two days before, was rapidly strengthening. Officials in New Orleans said that there was not enough time to arrange a mandatory evacuation for the city's 390,000. This task would require coordination with the state and nearby locales to convert highways into one-way roads away from the city.
LaToya Catrell, New Orleans Mayor, called for voluntary evacuation. She reiterated Saturday that it was becoming increasingly difficult to leave safely. Officials from the city were also preparing shelters for those displaced by the storm. They advised those who stayed to prepare for power outages and the sweltering heat that would follow.
Ramsey Green, the top official in the city's infrastructure, stated that the drainage and levee systems have greatly improved since Katrina.
He said that flooding would occur if there is 10-20 inches of rain in a short time.
Washington, DC - President Joe Biden called Ida "very danger" and warned Americans to be aware of the risks. He spoke Saturday during a virtual briefing with Deanne Criswell, administrator of Federal Emergency Management Agency on storm preparation.
As residents and tourists prepared to leave Saturday, the lines at gas stations and car rental agencies grew.
Ida was a danger far beyond New Orleans. A hurricane warning was issued covering nearly 200 miles (320 km) of Louisiana's coast, from Intracoastal City south to Lafayette to the Mississippi state border. A tropical storm warning was extended up to the Alabama-Florida border, and Mobile Bay in Alabama was placed under a storm surge watch.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared an emergency for Alabama's western and coastal counties on Saturday, warning that Ida could cause flooding and tornadoes.
Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi has urged residents to stay off interstate highways in order to make room for people fleeing Louisiana. Tate Reeves advised residents to avoid interstate highways in order to allow people fleeing Louisiana. According to Tate Reeves, 19 shelters were available for evacuees. Ida had already closed several casinos along the Mississippi coast.
Jeff Masters, a meteorologist who flew missions to hurricanes for the government and created Weather Underground, stated that Ida will move through "the absolute worst place for hurricane."
Masters stated that there are hundreds of industrial sites in the area, including petrochemical and three of America's largest ports. There is also a nuclear power station. Masters stated, "You are likely to close the Mississippi River for barge traffic multiple times a week."
Phillips 66 stated that it would close its Belle Chasse refinery, Louisiana, based upon Ida’s projected path.
Many gas stations around New Orleans ran out of gas and lines were more than a dozen deep at the remaining ones.
Mike Laurent, Marrero (La.) was filling about 12 gas canisters to power his generator as well as those of family and friends. Laurent stated that he and his family would be staying home to weather the storm, despite doubts about the strength of the levee. It was strengthened after Katrina 2005.
Laurent stated that she doesn't believe the jacket has been tested as it will be tomorrow or Monday. "I bought 12 life jackets just in case."
Ida, a Category 2 hurricane, was moving at 100 mph 100mph (155 km/h) by midday Saturday. The storm was located 380 miles (610 km) southeast of coastal Houma in Louisiana and was moving northwest at 16mph (26kph).
Officials in New Orleans advised residents to be ready for power outages and encouraged elderly residents to evacuate. Collin Arnold, city emergency management director, stated that the city could be subject to high winds for approximately 10 hours.
On Saturday, some normally bustling businesses were closed. To protect against flash floods, a popular breakfast spot was secured with sandbags at the entrance.
After Ida ravaged Isla de la Juventud, and the western part of the mainland, Cuba began to clean up on Saturday. The storm swept away trees and caused damage to crops and buildings. There were no deaths.