New Zealander Dean Carey and his family are planning to stay indoors for at least two days as the worst of Hurricane Ida bears down on New Orleans.
The New York-based family were halfway through their two-month holiday in the Louisiana city when the category four storm hit.
Yesterday was the last time they ventured outside. Today they are cooped up inside, watching the wind and rain batter trees in the park opposite their house.
"We were watching the locals, who, quite frankly, seem a bit mad to us," said Carey.
"We saw people just walking their dogs, going for a jog, cycling ... I mean there was less of them but it didn't seem to stop some of them getting out there."
The eye of the storm is passing just east from Houma, Louisiana, at 5pm local time.
Hurricane Ida is currently located about 40 miles southwest of New Orleans and maximum sustained winds remain at 209km/h, CNN reports.
The winds are likely to cause widespread damage and power outages, and "considerable to life-threatening" flash flooding across parts of Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.
More than 400,000 people in the state are without power, CNN reports.
A flash flood warning has been issued in New Orleans, with between four and six inches of rain expected.
Winds are reaching up to 80km/h in the city and gusts have been recorded at New Orleans Lakefront Airport to reach about 128km/h, Carey said.
Carey can see trees across the street bending over from the force of the wind, and tree branches, leaves and trash from knocked-over rubbish bins are littering the footpaths.
"It will stop around 10 or 12pm tonight. That's when the worst of it will pass but then they'll probably still be another day or two," he told the Herald.
"I think all of Monday will be the storm powering down, or the tail end of it, and Tuesday will be the day we venture out, assuming the winds die out."
Carey, his wife and two young daughters still have electricity and so are in "good spirits" for now but they are "in the thick of it".
"It's a weird experience, having been told to prepare, prepare, prepare, and we have and now we're in the middle of it, what do you do? You can't prepare anymore you just have to sit."
He said his daughters are "completely oblivious" to the storm raging outside.
"My eldest has only just learnt how to say 'Rain, rain go away', we've been pointing out the window getting her to say that," he said.
The family will reassess later if they intend to stay the full length of their holiday in New Orleans.
"You'd be a fool not to expect [a storm] in the Gulf anywhere, anywhere near the Pan Handle.
"From June to November it's hurricane season. Didn't expect a [category] 4 but you can truly never expect anything like that."