NEW ORLEANS (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – Tropical Storm Sally is expected to slow and turn to the north before strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico. Meteorologists are predicting Sally will be a Category 1 hurricane by the time it makes landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi line.
The expected severe weather comes less than three weeks after Hurricane Laura caused widespread damage.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a declared a state of emergency, and New Orleans officials have ordered residents to evacuate.
As the storm approaches, states on the southern coast are preparing for heavy rainfall and life-threatening storm surge.
“The bottom line continues to be that Sally is expected to be a dangerous slow-moving hurricane near the coast of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama during the next 2-3 days,” the National Hurricane Center warned.
Edwards said that they “have every reason to believe that this storm represents a very significant threat to the people of Southeast Louisiana.” Edwards said that he has spoken to President Donald Trump and is submitting a pre-landfall federal declaration request.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who signed a preliminary state of emergency Sunday, warned the storm “is probably going to persist over most portions of the state for basically 48 hours.”
Louisiana Still Recovering From Laura
Sally comes just weeks after Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4, causing widespread flooding and damage in the southwest part of the state.
Laura, which left six people dead statewide, tied with a hurricane from more than 150 years ago, as the strongest storm to strike the state of Louisiana.
The storm destroyed power grids in the state and repairs were anticipated to take weeks, if not months, to complete, officials said.
More than 70,000 people remain without power in the state following Laura, according to Poweroutage.us. At the peak, more than 800,000 customers were without power.
FEMA has approved assistance for 21 parishes in the state impacted by Laura, according to press release issued Sunday by the governor’s office.
Mandatory Evacuations Ordered Across Louisiana
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for several parishes, including Orleans, where New Orleans is located.
Some evacuations, including those in New Orleans for areas outside of the levee protection, were scheduled to go into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Venetian Isles, Lake Catherine and Irish Bayou, which are not protected by the levee, could see storm surge between 7 to 11 feet during Sally, NOLA Ready said in a tweet.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Sunday that the city is preparing for Tropical Storm Sally by distributing sandbags, getting pumps fully operational and signing an emergency declaration.
Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, cautioned residents about the severity of the storm during the press conference Sunday.
“This is potentially going to be a Category 2 hurricane impacting the greater area in the city of New Orleans,” Arnold warned. “You should be gathering your emergency supplies, three days’ worth.”
A mandatory evacuation has also been ordered in St. Charles Parish, which is home to more than 52,000 residents and located on the banks of the Mississippi in Southeast Louisiana.
“This is a storm everyone needs to take seriously. We are likely to see tropical storm force and hurricane strength winds for longer than Hurricane Katrina, a storm surge of 4-7 feet and the possibility of 20 inches of rain,” St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell announced Sunday on the official Facebook page of St. Charles Parish. “We want residents to heed our warnings and make preparations to leave now.”
Plaquemines Parish, where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico, announced on Twitter Sunday that a mandatory evacuation would be ordered for “the entire East Bank of Plaquemines Parish and on the West Bank from Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery to Venice.” Plaquemines Parish also announced a voluntary evacuation “from the community of Oakville to Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery.”
Grand Isle is also under mandatory evacuation due to Sally and a mandatory evacuation notice has gone out to the community of Port Fourchon.
At least one nursing home has already started evacuating their residents, Edwards said.
Three jails have also evacuated a total of 1,200 inmates, Edwards said.
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