Gulf Coast braces for tropical weather


Associated Press

MEXICO CITY

Tropical Storm Nate gained force as it sped toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Friday after drenching Central America in rain that was blamed for at least 21 deaths. Forecasters said it was likely to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane over the weekend.

Louisiana and Mississippi officials declared states of emergency, and Louisiana ordered some people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of its expected landfall Saturday night or early Sunday. Evacuations began at some offshore oil platforms in the Gulf.

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and mobilized 1,300 National Guard troops, with 15 headed to New Orleans to monitor the fragile pumping system there.

Mississippi’s government said it would open 11 evacuation shelters in areas away from the immediate coast, with buses available for people who can’t drive.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that Nate could raise sea levels by 4 to 7 feet from Morgan City, La., to the Alabama-Florida border. It had already caused deadly flooding in much of Central America.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning from Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama-Florida border and for metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain

Officials ordered the evacuation of part of coastal St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans ahead of the storm. Earlier, a voluntary evacuation was called in the barrier-island town of Grand Isle south of New Orleans.

New Orleans officials outlined steps to bolster the city’s pump and drainage system. Weaknesses in that system were revealed during summer flash floods.

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