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Hurricane Ida: New Orleans prepares; FEMA briefs Biden

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the White House South Court Auditorium while being briefed on the ongoing preparations for Hurricane Ida by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on Saturday. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI
President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the White House South Court Auditorium while being briefed on the ongoing preparations for Hurricane Ida by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell on Saturday. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Federal Emergency Management Agency briefed President Joe Biden on preparations ahead of Hurricane Ida's expected landfall on the Louisiana coast Saturday.

The agency set up supplies such as meals, water, and generators to assist states with impact from the storm. The agency deployed some 500 agents to Texas and Louisiana on top of the more than 2,000 FEMA employees already in the region.

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"We've prepositioned food, water, generators and other supplies in the area," Biden told reporters. "Power restoration and mobile communications support teams are also en route. We've closely coordinated with the electric utilities to restore power as soon as possible."

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Friday she won't issue a citywide mandatory evacuation due to lack of time to prepare ahead of Hurricane Ida.

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"Time is not on our side," she told reporters at a news conference.

Cantrell added that the National Weather Service and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards have indicated there wasn't enough time left to set up "contraflow" highway procedures to evacuate all city residents ahead of Ida's expected landfall as a dangerous major hurricane Sunday.

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"Therefore, the city cannot issue a mandatory evacuation because we don't have the time," Cantrell told reporters Friday. "We have pivoted to one voluntary evacuation, absolutely, this is the time. In addition to that, it really does speak to our ability like we've had to do in the past because of the lack of time the need to shelter in place, hunker down, it is vitally important. We want our people to be in their safe spaces by and no later than midnight tomorrow."

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A mandatory evacuation order was issued earlier Friday for residents outside of the city's levee protection district, including Lake Catherine, Irish Bayou and Venetian Isles.

The evacuation is not citywide because "we do not want to have people on the road and therefore in greater danger," Cantrell added during the news conference.

Cantrell's announcement came after a 4 p.m. update Friday from the National Hurricane Center showed that Ida has become more of a serious threat to New Orleans.

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Some parish officials in southeast Louisiana have called for mandatory evacuation orders in Grand Isle, Terrebonne Parish, St. Charles Parish, Lafourch Parish, and Plaquemines Parish, and voluntary evacuations in Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish.

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After making landfall Sunday, Ida is expected to produce heavy rainfall later in the day into Monday across the central Gulf Coast from southeast Louisiana to coastal Mississippi resulting in significant flooding impacts, the NWS said in an advisory Saturday.

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