EXCLUSIVE: The National Hurricane Center said Friday afternoon that a Category 4 hurricane is forecast to make landfall in Louisiana on Sunday, which marks the exact day Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans 16 years ago as a Category 3 storm.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell has called for all those who live outside the city’s protective levee system to evacuate. According to the Associated Press, they mayor also asked those inside the levees to voluntarily evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall, predicted for Sunday evening.
“Now is the time to start,” Cantrell said.
NBC reported that the east side of the city may get 7 to 11 feet of water from a combination of storm surge, high tide and torrential rain. Local levees may see overflow, according to the report.
The multiple Hollywood productions currently working in the city are swiftly preparing for contingencies associated with the storm.
Working on the sixth episode of its eight-episode second season, Ava DuVernay’s Cherish the Day shut down Thursday with a shelter-in-place order to prepare for the incoming storm. With the entire Gulf Coast now under threat, the production of the OWN series moved to evacuate this morning.
“Like all productions and studios, we’re working to figure out what the best course is,” Cherish the Day executive producer Paul Garnes told Deadline. “We have a hurricane plan that we put in place before every season, just for this particular emergency,” the Array Filmworks boss added. “As the weather and the storm quickly turned from not coming to New Orleans to being a tropical storm to being a Hurricane 1 and now (this morning) projected as a Hurricane 3, we escalated up that plan.”
Of course, DeVernay and Garnes have a fair degree of experience with how quickly things can change in the Bayou State, wi the their acclaimed OWN series Queen Sugar having filmed in Louisiana for six seasons.
“We wanted to make sure that our crew, who lived in those affected areas would have time to do what they have to do,” Garnes noted of the measures Cherish put in place as Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards declared a state of emergency for those living outside NOLA’s levees. “And today we decided to move forward with moving our out of town crew and cast to a safe place. So, many went to Los Angeles, some went to nearby cities like Atlanta to basically shelter there.”
Will Smith and Antione Fuqua’s Emancipation is also making contingency plans. While evacuation orders remain voluntary, producers of the Apple Original Film have reserved a block of rooms in Atlanta for any and all cast and crew who would like to evacuate. Buses will be provided to shuttle those people. In the event of a mandatory evacuation, cast and crew are being strongly urged to decamp to Atlanta. The production is also taking pains to keep track of its people as the storm approaches, so it can help them in whatever way possible.
Here’s the text of the message sent Friday to cast and crew:
As of this moment, the area is still under a voluntary evacuation.
The production has secured rooms beginning tonight in Atlanta (see below). Any and all crew who would like to evacuate can self drive, or busses will be available from the Production Office…tomorrow morning at 7am. Parking will be provided at the back entrance of the production office parking garage.
Should a mandatory evacuation be ordered by the location authorities all distant cast and crew are strongly encouraged and advised to depart the city by 7:00am tomorrow, 8/28. Should any local crew require hotel rooms, they are encouraged to also take advantage of our block of Atlanta hotel rooms.
If you plan to travel to Atlanta, please let the production team know asap so we can coordinate when you will arrive and how you will travel. It’s important that we have accurate numbers for the busses and also know your whereabouts at all times during the duration of the storm.
Meanwhile, the NBC/Blumhouse limited series The Thing About Pam, starring Renée Zellweger and Josh Duhamel, has suspended pre-production until after the storm passes.
According to a listing from Film New Orleans, which is part of the mayor’s office, there are at least three other productions shooting in the city: Disney’s Ultraviolet & Black Scorpion; Netflix’s We Have a Ghost, which stars New Orleans native Anthony Mackie; and an untitled voodoo-related series from Epix.
When asked about the state of production in the city, a Film New Orleans representative told Deadline that “nothing has been mandated by the city.” The official also made plain that companies are free to suspend production on their own until the storm passes.
Dave Robb contributed to this report.
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