There's no athlete more beloved by the city of New Orleans than recently retired quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, which marked the team's return after a year in exile from the city due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Dallas native emerged as a hero in the city's resurgence and led New Orleans to its only Super Bowl in franchise history, defeating the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, while starting at quarterback for 16 consecutive seasons of an inevitable hall of fame career.
On Sunday, Brees, now a contributor to NBC Sports' Sunday Night Football coverage, shared a video message for the people of Louisiana as Hurricane Ida -- already tied as one of the strongest storms to ever hit the state -- makes its way through Louisiana on the 16-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"My heart is with you, please everyone stay safe and secure here during the hurricane and God bless everyone. Stay safe," Brees said in the video shared by the Atlanta Falcons' verified Twitter account ahead of Sunday night's game between the Falcons and Cleveland Browns.
Brees also shared a photo of the hurricane's projected path on his verified Instagram account with the following: "Praying for Nola and all of Louisiana during this time. May God keep us safe and secure."
Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon Sunday afternoon as a Category 4 hurricane and was moving over Galliano and Golden Meadow as of 3:45 p.m. local time.
The National Hurricane Center confirmed Ida reached wind speeds of 150 MPH, tying Hurricane Katrina on the 16th anniversary of the devastating storm, as well as Laura (2020) and the Last Island Hurricane (1856) as the most powerful storms to ever hit the state.
“We can sum it up by saying this will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards at a news conference ahead of the storm on Saturday via the New York Times.
Ida had previously passed through the Cayman Islands as a tropical storm and elevated to a Category 1 hurricane prior to reaching Cuba on Friday (August 27), causing mass evacuations in Louisiana ahead of its expected landfall Sunday.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to a Category 3 hurricane and later a Category 4 on Sunday as it continued to move toward the coast of Louisiana.
During a recent appearance on State of the Union with CNN's Jake Tapper, Gov. Edwards acknowledged Louisiana's significant investments in shoring up its levy system following the devastation of Katrina in 2005.
Gov. Edwards said Ida "will be the most severe test" of the levees, but expects them to hold.
"The next 24, 36 hours are just going to be very, very critical for us here in Louisiana," Edwards added.