Louisianians scramble to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ida

KENNER, Louisiana (KTRK) -- With a major storm on the way, a mass exodus was underway Saturday morning in the area expected to be heavily impacted.

As Hurricane Ida moves northward in the Gulf of Mexico, residents in the New Orleans area filled the freeways leading out of the city as gasoline became a more precious commodity.

RELATED: Ida now predicted to make landfall with 140 mph winds in Louisiana

In New Orleans the mayor ordered a mandatory evacuation for areas outside the city's levee system and a voluntary evacuation for residents inside the levee system. But since the storm quickly escalated in intensity, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said it was not possible to order a mandatory evacuation for the entire city, which would require using all lanes of some highways to leave the city.

"I survived Katrina, and I don't want to be in the same place," one evacuee told ABC13's Ted Oberg as he fueled up his vehicle before leaving.

Bulk fuel trucks were busy delivering gasoline to convenience stores along interstate 10 Saturday morning. At one gas station, trucks had made five deliveries in 36 hours to keep up with the surging demand.

"They're scared. I'm scared," one resident said. "I've been in it more than once. As you go from town to town, all the hotels have filled up and you keep going."

The storm is expected to make landfall on the exact date Hurricane Katrina devastated a large swath of the Gulf Coast 16 years earlier. But whereas Katrina was a Category 3 when it made landfall southwest of New Orleans, Ida is expected to reach an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, with top winds of 140 mph before making landfall likely west of New Orleans late Sunday.

"Today is it," Jamie Rhome, acting deputy director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Saturday. "If you're in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, you really, really have to get going because today is it in terms of protecting life and property."

Representatives with the Louisiana State Police reported congested roads due to evacuations across the southern part of the state.

Interstate 10 from New Orleans eastward into Mississippi was at a crawl on Saturday, as was westbound lanes leading to Baton Rouge.

Meanwhile, the westbound lanes of the interstate were also congested between Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and the Texas state line as evacuees headed to places like Houston and Dallas.

Authorities encouraged residents to check road conditions and plan their routes due to the high volume of travelers.
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