A devastating hurricane is lashing the United States right now - destroying buildings and causing massive flooding.
Hurricane Ida is continuing to lash the US state of Louisiana as the devastating storm made landfall.
The powerful Category 4 storm slammed into the coast on Sunday, local time, 16 years to the day after deadly Hurricane Katrina devastated the southern city of New Orleans.
“Extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Ida makes landfall near Port Fourchon, Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Centre wrote in an advisory.
Ida struck the port, approximately 160km south of New Orleans, packing maximum sustained winds estimated at 240km per hour.
President Joe Biden called Ida “a life-threatening storm” that “continues to rage and ravage everything it comes in contact with.”
Speaking after a briefing with federal emergency managers, he urged anyone on the storm’s path to hunker down immediately and heed official warnings.
Despite those warnings, journalists were still determined to put themselves in the thick of the danger, with social media slamming their behaviour.
Al Roker, the host of the US version of the Today Show, was filmed standing just metres away from the ocean, with huge swell smashing the side of his body as he attempted to do a live-cross back to the studio.
The dangerous footage was slammed by Twitter commenters.
“Maybe let’s not? A 70-year-old in the eye of a hurricane isn’t that much fun to see,” one commenter wrote, lashing the video.
“Why is this still a thing? Is anything helped by sticking near-elderly weathermen out into a hurricane that you‘re supposed to be evacuated from? This is stupid and dangerous for no reason at all,” another said.
National Geographic storm chase reporter Mike Theiss also filmed himself at Houma, Louisiana, in the thick of the storm.
“I’m using this building as a barrier. The whole building is shaking right now,” he told his 44,000 followers.
“Oh my god this is getting stronger, it’s at least 90 miles (140km) an hour, maybe more.”
His video was met with praise and criticism.
“Not sure whether to support you by following or not follow so I don’t encourage you to keep doing suck recklessly dangerous videos. Stay safe,” one person wrote.
“There’s no one better than Mike at doing this. He’s as good a storm chaser/reporter as they come. It’s crazy dangerous, but his sense of duty to this important job is truly admirable. Stay safe,” another wrote.
The storm has started to weaken after making landfall however authorities remain on high alert with heavy rain and strong winds expected to linger.
Ahead of Ida’s arrival, showers and strong wind swept New Orleans’ deserted streets throughout the morning, buffeting boarded-up windows at businesses and homes surrounded by sandbags.
The National Hurricane Center warned of catastrophic wind damage and life-threatening storm surges through the region.
State Governor John Bel Edwards said Ida could be the most powerful storm to hit the state since 1850.
“There is no doubt that the coming days and weeks are going to be extremely difficult,” he said at a briefing on Sunday, adding that some people might have to shelter in place for up to 72 hours.
“Find the safest place in your house and stay there until the storm passes,” he wrote earlier on Twitter.
Storm surges flooded the town of Grand Isle, on a barrier island south of New Orleans, and low-lying highways in the area were covered in water.
Extensive and long-lasting power outages are expected, with 365,000 homes already without electricity by late afternoon, according to the website poweroutage.us.
Amid urgent warnings of catastrophic damage, most residents had heeded authorities’ instructions to flee. Scores of people packed bumper-to-bumper roads leading out of New Orleans in the days preceding Ida’s arrival.
Governor Edwards warned the storm “presents some very challenging difficulties for us, with the hospitals being so full of Covid patients.”
The Southern state, with a low rate of vaccinations, has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, severely stressing hospitals.
Hospitalisations, at 2700 on Saturday, are near their pandemic high.
The memory of Katrina, which made landfall on August 29, 2005, is still fresh in Louisiana, where it caused some 1800 deaths and billions of dollars in damage.
“It’s very painful to think about another powerful storm like Hurricane Ida making landfall on that anniversary,” Edwards had previously said.
- With AFP