Capital Region residents are making their final preparations as Tropical Storm Ida appears headed straight for Louisiana.
Ida is expected to make landfall Sunday as a major hurricane and has been following a path that reminds some storm watchers of 2008’s Hurricane Gustav, which did tremendous damage in the Greater Baton Rouge area and left some residents without power for weeks.
Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency late Thursday, warning of the potential for dangerous storm surge, damaging hurricane-force wind and heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday along the Louisiana coast.
“Unfortunately, all of Louisiana’s coastline is currently in the forecast cone for Tropical Storm Ida, which is strengthening and could come ashore in Louisiana as a major hurricane as Gulf conditions are conducive for rapid intensification,” Edwards says. “By Saturday evening, everyone should be in the location where they intend to ride out the storm.
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber issued a statement this morning urging “businesses of all sizes to begin immediate preparations,” noting that the chamber has posted advice at brac.org/prepare.
“With an active storm in the Gulf, the time to review or update disaster management plans is now,” says Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC. BRAC also released recommendations to help businesses prepare for weather emergencies. Preparedness resources may be found at brac.org/prepare.
Embassy Suites in Baton Rouge is fully booked, says Andy McGinty, the hotel’s general manager.
“It’s mostly locals that are trying to escape the storm,” he says. “Not to mention you have Entergy, AT&T and Cox trying to find places for their crews to stay.”
Scott Michelet, general manager at Crowne Plaza and president of the Baton Rouge Lodging Association, says some Baton Rouge hotels are near or at capacity as evacuees and first responders book rooms, though many potential guests are cancelling their planned stays.
“Baton Rouge is really not the best place to be right now it seems,” he says. “Some people who normally evacuate here may be bypassing us this time.”
Matherne’s Market locations have seen a run on the usual pre-storm necessities like snacks and water but so far are not facing any shortages, says Ernie Matherne Jr.
“We’re pretty well-stocked on the hurricane supplies at the moment,” he says. “We should be good through the weekend.”
Gasoline sales have spiked but maintaining the gas supply so far has not been a problem, says Benny’s Car Wash owner Justin Alford.
“We have generators and we plan on being here through the entire storm if we can,” he says. “We already had a difficult supply chain before; this is just going to make it worse.”