Hurricane Isaac makes landfall

Hurricane Isaac makes landfall

Posted: Updated:
The floodgates in New Orleans are closing for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. (Source: WDSU/CNN) The floodgates in New Orleans are closing for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. (Source: WDSU/CNN)
President Barack Obama gave a brief statement on preparations for Isaac on Tuesday. (Source: CNN) President Barack Obama gave a brief statement on preparations for Isaac on Tuesday. (Source: CNN)
Many New Orleans residents are voluntarily leaving the area. Officials have told them to prepare for a storm with a "large area of potential impact." (Source: WWL/CNN) Many New Orleans residents are voluntarily leaving the area. Officials have told them to prepare for a storm with a "large area of potential impact." (Source: WWL/CNN)
NASA satellites track Isaac's progress in the Gulf. (Source: CNN/NASA) NASA satellites track Isaac's progress in the Gulf. (Source: CNN/NASA)
The National Hurricane Center released the latest tracking information for Hurricane Isaac at 2 p.m. ET. (Source: NHC) The National Hurricane Center released the latest tracking information for Hurricane Isaac at 2 p.m. ET. (Source: NHC)

(RNN) - Moving at 8 mph with 80 mph winds, Hurricane Isaac has made landfall in Louisiana. The eye of the 200-mile wide storm hit land at Plaquemines Parish about 75 miles from New Orleans.

Entergy reported 250,000 customers without power in and around the New Orleans area as of early Wednesday. But the big concern is flooding. The slow moving storm is expected to dump double digit amounts of rain on the region.

Earlier today, the Army Corps of Engineers is closing floodgates in Louisiana parishes as Hurricane Isaac creeps closer to the Gulf Coast.

New Orleans is closing floodgates for the first time since they were built after Hurricane Katrina. The floodgates are almost a 2 mile barrier to protect New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.

A hurricane warning is in effect for east of Morgan City, LA, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The area from Intracoastal City to Morgan City, LA, have been placed under a hurricane watch. 

A hurricane warning has been replaced by a tropical storm warning from the Mississippi-Alabama border eastward to Destin, FL, according to the NWS. The warning for east of Destin has been discontinued.

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for the state of Mississippi hours after his approval of a disaster declaration for Louisiana. In a 10 a.m. ET news conference, he asked residents in the path of Isaac to heed the warnings of officials.

"Now is not the time to tempt fate," Obama said.

He said he met with the heads of FEMA, the National Hurricane Center and Homeland Security, and response teams and supplies had been prepared for areas the storm is expected to hit.

Also, he gave his assurance that everyone was prepared to handle the storm and the fallout.

Thad McIntyre told WLBT that he's staying put.

"I don't think it's going to be quite as big as people say" said McIntyre of D'Iberville, MS. "Obviously we can tell that by just what's going on now.Our concern here is not so much trees and debris as it is water so there really is no need to board up for that."

Isaac appears to be following a path similar to Hurricane Katrina. It is expected to make landfall near New Orleans as a category 1 storm Wednesday - the seven-year anniversary of when Katrina tore through the city. However, Katrina made landfall over Mississippi as a Category 3 storm.

According to the Associated Press, shelters were opened for people who stayed or missed the chance to get away before outer bands of the storm reached the shore.

The National Hurricane Center report also indicated that tropical storm force winds can reach up to 205 miles from the eye of the storm. 

Isaac is expected to make landfall sometime early Wednesday along a stretch reaching from the levees of Louisiana to the extreme edge of the Florida panhandle. However, the Weather Channel reported parts of the storm could reach land as early as Tuesday evening.

Levee systems in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana will be put to the test as Isaac nears, marking the second time a major storm has hit the area since Katrina.

The National Hurricane Center predicted water levels could reach 6 to 12 feet above ground along Louisiana and Mississippi; 3 to 6 feet in south central Louisiana; 4 to 8 feet along the Alabama coast; 3 to 6 feet along the Florida panhandle; and up to 3 feet along the west coast of Florida.

The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida declared states of emergency as a hurricane warning went into effect for the 300-mile stretch.

• Louisiana: Grand Isle has been placed under mandatory evacuation. Gov. Bobby Jindal called for residents in coastal parishes prone to flooding to voluntarily evacuate.

• Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant dispatched 1,500 National Guard troops to the state's three coastal counties to assist local authorities. Harrison County, which includes Biloxi and Gulfport, is under mandatory evacuation, according to county EMA.

• Alabama: Gov. Robert Bentley lifted mandatory evacuation orders covering portions of Baldwin and Mobile counties and issued voluntary evacuation orders for areas vulnerable to Isaac.

• Florida: Some residents were affected by power outages and minor damage.

Although only predicted to make landfall as a category 1 hurricane, federal officials are warning residents for a sizable storm.

"Don't focus necessarily on where it may come in. This is a very large area of potential impact," FEMA director Craig Fuagte said in a press conference.

No mandatory evacuations have been ordered for New Orleans, although residents of 20 Louisiana parishes have been advised to leave voluntarily.

All flights out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport have been canceled as of Tuesday morning. Airports in Baton Rouge, LA, Biloxi, MS, Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL are also experiencing flight delays and cancellations. Normal flight operations have resumed at airports in Miami and Tampa, FL.

Although officials from the coastal areas are hoping for the best, many are preparing for the worst and warning residents not to be fooled by Isaac's tropical storm classification.

The storm has caused Jindal to skip the Republican National Convention and give up his featured speaker spot on Wednesday evening, instead focusing on Isaac's campaign toward his state. 

"I will not be speaking or attending the Republican convention in Florida," he said during a press conference. "There is no time for politics here in Louisiana."

Jindal also canceled his trip to the RNC in 2008, as Hurricane Gustav also posed a threat to Louisiana.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined Jindal, canceling his appearances during the convention. Bentley and Bryant also canceled their trip to Tampa in order to provide support for their states.

"We always have to remember that what we're trying to do is protect the lives of the people of this area. Everything else is secondary," Bentley said.

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