New Orleans battens down the hatches as Isaac approaches | News | DW | 28.08.2012
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New Orleans battens down the hatches as Isaac approaches

Hurricane Isaac has moved closer to the United States' Gulf coast, with a state of emergency declared in Louisiana and Mississippi. The approach stirs some uncomfortable memories for citizens of New Orleans.

Isaac could make landfall as early as Tuesday evening, with US President Barack Obama declaring states of emergency in Mississippi and Louisiana to help local officials prepare. The storm was upgraded to a hurricane on Tuesday.

"I want to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions, including if they tell you to evacuate," said Obama.

"Now is not the time to tempt fate ... or dismiss official warnings," he said.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency moved into Florida and then Louisiana last week as Isaac moved slowly across the Caribbean. At least 19 people were killed in Haiti.

DW correspondent Simon Bone is in Destin, Florida, one of the potential targets of the storm. He says authoritiies are urging people there to prepare for potential flooding and power cuts. Residents have been covering windows and stocking up on essentials.

New Orleans Governor Bobby Jindal said Hurricane Isaac's size and slow speed would magnify its effects - even after the eye of the storm has passed.

"The slow-moving storm means greater chance of rain," Jindal said.

Seven years after Hurricane Katrina broke through flood walls and devastated the city in 2005, the wait for Isaac is proving particularly anxious in New Orleans. Some 1,800 people were killed along the Gulf coast as a result of Katrina.

The National Hurricane Center has predicted up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) of rain and high storm surges.

With residents of the city facing the choice of leaving or holing up to weather the storm, streets were reported to be largely quiet. No mandatory evacuation orders have yet been put in place for the city.

rc/mkg/sgb (dpa, Reuters)