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Gulf Coast prepares for Isaac; thousands told to evacuate

August 26, 2012|By Paloma Esquivel
  • Shira Edllan Gervasi of Israel puts her name on plywood protecting a storefront in Key West.
Shira Edllan Gervasi of Israel puts her name on plywood protecting a storefront… (Alan Diaz, Associated Press )

The governors of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana declared states of emergency as Tropical Storm Isaac headed toward the northern Gulf Coast, where it is expected to land as a hurricane in the next few days. Thousands of people were told to evacuate in Louisiana and Alabama.

 "I am urging everyone to take precautions now, monitor weather warnings, and be prepared for whatever Isaac may bring," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement.

Bentley ordered mandatory evacuations beginning Monday morning for residents near the Gulf Coast and for low-lying areas a dozen miles inland.

INTERACTIVE: Track the path of Tropical Storm Isaac

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal encouraged voluntary evacuations for some residents living in low-lying areas of 15 parishes within the hurricane warning zone.

In St. Charles Parish near New Orleans, 53,000 residents were told to leave, the Associated Press reported. 

And in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans, officials ordered mandatory evacuations starting at Monday noon for about 2,000 residents of the parish’s east bank, and voluntary evacuations for about 5,000 residents in the south end. 

The parish sticks out into the gulf and is in danger of seeing some of its levees topped, said parish President Billy Nungesser.

“We need to side on precaution and get those people out,” he said.

In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant said he authorized the state National Guard to deploy 10 members of its civil support team to coastal counties to help with preparations and to be on hand in case a full-scale disaster response is necessary.

“We are taking the threat of impact from Isaac seriously, and we are working to ensure that Mississippi is well-prepared,” Bryant said in a statement. “Sound preparations will enable us to ramp up our response without losing time if the situation worsens.”

Earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency and urged delegates to the Republican National Convention to avoid flood-prone areas. Scott told a Sunday evening news conference that only minor damage had been reported so far.

Isaac was expected to cross the Florida Keys late Sunday or early Monday, with a second landfall expected along the Gulf Coast anywhere from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana. Forecasters said it could come ashore as a Category 2 hurricane by early Wednesday -- the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths. 

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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