Gulf Coast battens down; Category 1 storm hits land
Officials take emergency measures in La., Miss., Ala., Fla.
Hurricane Nate made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a Category 1 storm Saturday night, with mandatory evacuations, curfews and beach closures in effect.
The National Hurricane Center forecast that the storm, which was moving about 23 mph, would pass over portions of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee before turning northeast and heading up the coast.
Forecasters said Nate appeared to have lost some strength but could gain it back. Maximum sustained winds were 85 mph as it made landfall about 8 p.m. ET, with higher gusts, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Across the immediate forecast impact area, four Gulf Coast states — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — declared emergency measures, including mandatory evacuations, curfews, beach closures and traffic blockades at floodprone underpasses.
The center issued a hurricane warning for metropolitan New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain and a coastal stretch from Grand Isle, La., to the Alabama-Florida border. A tropical storm warning was in effect east of the Okaloosa/Walton County Line in Florida to Indi-
“This is the most dangerous hurricane to hit Mississippi since Katrina, make no mistake.”
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Lee Smithson
an Pass, Fla.
The forecast warned of a storm surge up to 11 feet in some areas.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to take the warnings seriously, saying the storm “has the potential to do a lot of damage.”
“We do want people to be very, very cautious and to not take this storm for granted,” Edwards said.
The state National Guard mobilized 1,300 troops and positioned high-water vehicles, boats and buses to help with rescues.
President Trump approved an emergency declaration for a large area of the state and ordered federal assistance for Louisiana as Nate approached.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said 109 of the 120 pumps critical for draining the low-lying city were functioning — a 92% capacity.
“We are ready for whatever Nate brings our way,” he said.
In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in the six southernmost counties. State officials warned that Nate’s main danger was the possibility of up to 10 feet of storm surge in low-lying coastal areas, as well as from winds that could damage mobile homes.
“This is the most dangerous hurricane to hit Mississippi since Katrina, make no mistake,” Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Lee Smithson said. He warned people to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew was ordered for Jackson County, where the brunt of Nate is expected.
“We are ready for whatever Nate brings our way.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
Johnice Katz works to clear the storm drain in front of her New Orleans home Saturday in preparation for Hurricane Nate.
New Orleans residents fill sandbags Saturday as the Gulf Coast anticipates the hurricane.