New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell slammed over no evacuation

The New Orleans mayor was pilloried when she asked people to 'hunker down', saying there was no time left for mandatory evacuations

                            New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell slammed over no evacuation
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been criticized over handling of the situation as Hurricane Ida approaches the city after impacting Cuba (Getty Images/ Bennett Raglin and Joe Raedle)

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has been criticized over handling of the situation as Hurricane Ida threatens the city after wreaking havoc in Cuba. The 49-year-old politician on Friday, August 27, said there was no time left for mandatory evacuations. However, she urged the locals to voluntarily move to safe places as the intensifying tropical cyclone after affecting western Cuba approaches the Gulf Coast of the US.

According to reports, the maximum sustained winds of Ida were approximately 80 miles per hour on Friday. However, chances are it may become stronger while nearing Louisiana. Cantrell did not order a mandatory evacuation of the whole city since it was too late, but she issued a compulsory evacuation for regions outside of Louisiana's levee protection system. During a news conference, the Democrat said, “Hurricane Ida represents a dramatic threat to the people of the city of New Orleans. Time is not on our side... the city cannot issue a mandatory evacuation because we don't have the time.”


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Mayor LaToya Cantrell attends 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

She added: “We have pivoted to... voluntary evacuation—absolutely—this is the time. Because of the lack of time, [other residents] need to shelter in place. Hunker down, it is vitally important.”

As per forecasters from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Ida could prove to be an “extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane” by the time it may pass over New Orleans and other places of the Gulf Coast on Sunday, August 29. The official statement by the NHC added, “Rapid strengthening is forecast during the next day or two, and Ida is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane when it approaches the northern Gulf coast on Sunday.”

Two men paddle in high water in the Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area August 31, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Devastation is widespread throughout the city with water approximately 12 feet high in some areas. Hundreds are feared dead and thousands were left homeless in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida by the storm. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Taking precautionary measures, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced a state of emergency on Friday itself because of the massive storm. At the time, Ida was still a tropical storm. At a press conference, Edwards informed citizens that the natural disaster was “going to be a very serious storm,” and requested them to do “all that we can to be prepared.”

Hurricane Ida hugely impacted Cuba on Friday evening as Ivonne Deulofeu, a resident of the western Cuba town of Vinales, told The Associated Press: “It shook us up hard. It was really frightening. We had to nail the doors of the rooms... The plants, they're all gone.” Coincidentally, Ida is expected to arrive on August 29 - the 16th anniversary of New Orleans being struck by Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, the dangerous storm killed more than 1,800 people, displaced millions more, and caused billions of dollars in damages in North America.

People on Canal St. use a boat to get to higher ground as water began to fill the streets August 30, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Thousands of people are left homeless after Hurricane Katrina hit the area yesterday morning. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, people on the internet seemed not very happy with Cantrell’s handling of the crisis. A user tweeted, “So @mayorcantrell can close Bourbon St for Covid but not for a gotdamn hurricane about to hit?? Not enough time for a mandatory evacuation but you can still get a HurricaneTropical drinkfrom Pat O's? Please pray safety for New Orleans, from #HurricaneIda & the fucked up city officials.”


Another one asked, “Where was @mayorcantrell the last three days? After what Katrina did to NOLA, her failure to implement mandatory evacuations earlier is an inexcusable dereliction of duty. On 8/27 @POTUS declared State of Emergency & mobilized FEMA/DHS. Hope @TheJointStaff will evac hospital pts.” “Can someone explain to me why Mayor Cantrell is saying there's no time for evacuation? I genuinely am curious, because we're two days out but maybe there's something I don't know about evacuating for major storms,” the third user said.






A person added: “Because politicians wait till the last minute and ignore meteorologists and emergency managers and then traffic becomes bumper to bumper and then people die from the storms or heat, or something else and it’s a catastrophe.”

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