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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a press conference in preparation for Hurricane Ida on Saturday morning, during which she and city officials urged residents to shelter in place by midnight or leave immediately.

Cantrell recommended the latter option.

“If you are going to leave, you need to do that now,” Cantrell said.

Cantrell also urged residents to be prepared for everything from damaging wind and power outages to heavy rain and tornadoes. “There are no signs, again, that this storm will weaken,” said Cantrell, who noted that the storm may even strengthen.

Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, emphasized that residents planning to ride out the storm need to understand there will be a significant impact, and that they need to stay in place.

“Finish preparations today and be where you need to be by midnight,” said Arnold.

Cantrell also urged the public to check on friends, family and neighbors.

According to officials, 200 members of the National Guard are in New Orleans and ready to respond. More members of the National Guard are expected to arrive this evening.

Forecasters warned residents along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast to rush preparations Saturday ahead of an intensifying Hurricane Ida, which is expected to bring winds as high as 130 mph (209 kph), life-threatening storm surge and flooding rain when it slams ashore in Louisiana on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center warned that super-warm Gulf waters could rapidly magnify Ida’s destructive power, boosting it from a Category 2 storm to an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane in just 18 hours or less.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.