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Tropical Storm Isaac hits southern Florida; Gulf Coast gets ready

August 26, 2012|By Paloma Esquivel | This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
  • Alan Diaz / Associated Press
Alan Diaz / Associated Press (m9djttpd20120826164742/600 )

Tropical Storm Isaac brought wind, rain and some power outages to southern Florida Sunday on its way toward the Gulf Coast, where residents prepared for a possible hurricane.

Cities and states along the northern Gulf Coast prepared for the possibility that Isaac would arrive by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning as a Category 2 hurricane, packing sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph. 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and called on residents living in low-lying areas of 15 parishes that are under a hurricane watch to begin voluntary evacuations.

In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu also declared a state of emergency and warned residents to get ready by gathering supplies, boarding up windows and preparing for the loss of power.

“Now is the time for the citizens of New Orleans to prepare,” he said in a news conference.

Officials in nearby Plaquemines Parish ordered mandatory evacuations Monday for the east bank and suggested voluntary evacuations for other parts of the parish. St. Charles Parish, also near New Orleans, ordered mandatory evacuations for the entire parish, the Associated Press reported. 

In Biloxi, Miss., Mayor A.J. Holloway said in a statement that he would ask the City Council on Monday to declare a state of emergency. Some projections show the storm passing directly over the city.

“Right now we’re in the cross hairs of the storm,” city spokesman Vincent Creel said. “We know that it could still move a little  bit more to the west, but we know that regardless of how far it moves we’re still going to feel something here.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency, the Associated Press reported. 

Even if the storm is not as bad as hurricanes in previous years, residents still need to prepare, Creel said.

“People still will look a storm and say, ‘Oh it’s not going to be as bad as Katrina.’ But it doesn’t have to be as bad as Katrina. Any storm can cause you problems if you’re not prepared.”

Katrina, the monster storm of 2005 that laid waste to New Orleans and the Mississippi coast, is blamed for more than 1,800 deaths, most of them in Louisiana. Wednesday is the seventh anniversary of Katrina's landfall. 

In southern Florida on Sunday, thousands lost power, flights were canceled and officials said tornadoes were possible. But many residents breathed a sigh of relief that the impact was not as bad as it could have been.

Working the front desk at the Casa Marina Resort in Key West on Sunday afternoon, Carlos Valdez, 23, said the day was calm and uneventful despite some rain and high winds.

“We’re completely fine. The guests are mostly staying in their rooms. We haven’t lost power or anything,” he said. “Living in Key West, you get used to the storms coming through.”

In Hollywood, north of Miami, where the Native Florida Tap Room and Music Hall held a hurricane party Sunday afternoon, bar owner Carl "Kilmo" Pacillo described lots of wind and some rain but nothing that lived up to the ominous warnings residents received over the last few days.

“Everyone kind of prepared for the worst,” he said. “But it’s nothing out of the ordinary for Florida weather this time of year.”

[For the record, 6:38 p.m. Aug. 26: An earlier version of this post said Louisiana Gov.  Bobby Jindal had ordered residents of 15 low-lying parishes to begin voluntary evacuations. Actually, his order applied to residents who live in low-lying areas of the 15 parishes.]

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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