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South Texas Gulf Coast Braces for Isidore

Weather: The tropical storm could regain hurricane strength as it hits open water today.

September 24, 2002|From Times Wire Services

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Shrimp boats streamed into port and residents stocked up on supplies for boarding up windows Monday as Tropical Storm Isidore threatened to regain hurricane strength and hit the Gulf Coast.

As of Monday afternoon, the storm was stalled over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, about 660 miles southeast of South Padre Island.

Forecasters said the storm could regain hurricane intensity as it moves over warm water in the Gulf of Mexico today.

Moisture linked to Isidore combined with other storm activity to drench parts of the Texas coast Monday. High water kicked up by Isidore crested over dunes and onto the northern end of South Padre Island's main road. Workers piled up sand to prevent flooding.

The National Weather Service posted flood alerts from Brownsville about 90 miles north to Baffin Bay, as coastal residents stocked up on plywood to protect their windows from hurricane-force wind.

In its march across the Yucatan, the storm peeled roofs off homes and snapped trees in an area scattered with colonial cities, Mayan ruins and nature reserves.

As authorities worked to restore communication across the peninsula, Yucatan Gov. Patricio Patron reported two dead.

President Vicente Fox toured the nearby community of Kanasin late Monday, stopping at a school whose windows were shattered and halls were flooded by the storm.

"We will do all that we can as fast as we can," he told the crowd.

Isidore was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved inland over the Yucatan, tossing uprooted trees onto Merida's famous Paseo de Montejo.

Isidore also caused heavy rains in Guatemala, where officials said two people drowned when they tried to cross a rain-swollen river.

The storm was expected to regain speed and move within 250 miles of the South Texas coast by Wednesday, weather service meteorologist Richard Hagan said.

From there, forecasters said, the storm could parallel the Texas coast, causing damage from high seas, then hit inland near Louisiana as early as Thursday.

Texas and Louisiana officials braced for a worst-case scenario: a long, watery trek up hundreds of miles of coastline.

Officials in southwestern Louisiana were on alert, but no immediate evacuations were ordered. Gov. Mike Foster declared a state of emergency to clear the way for state help if needed.

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