Tropical Storm Isaac Threatens US Gulf Coast on Anniversary of Katrina
As of Monday morning, Tropical Storm Isaac was churning towards the US Gulf coast, ruining the first day of the GOP National Convention and soaking the Florida Keys with torrential rains but causing little actual water damage.
The storm is expected to achieve hurricane strength by Tuesday, fed by warm waters in the Gulf Of Mexico, finally making landfall sometime late Tuesday somewhere along the stretch of shoreline that runs from New Orleans through the Florida panhandle. A recent westward turn stands to put New Orleans back in the crosshairs almost seven years to the day that the Big Easy was struck full on by Hurricane Katrina.
Much of South Florida remains under a tornado watch as the remnants of the storm move across the area. Flooding in Tampa affected several main roads, including many of those in the immediate area where the Republican Convention is being held.
In Louisiana, a state of emergency has been declared, with more than 53,000 residents being told to leave ahead of the storm. Mississippi and Alabama have issued similar emergency warnings. Governors in all three states have canceled plans to attend the GOP convention in order to attend to the more pressing matters in their respective states.
Isaac’s approach has also curtailed work on several oil rigs, responsible for more than 24% of US oil production.
A hurricane warning is in full effect for a 300 mile stretch along the Gulf Coast, with tropical storm warnings in effect for an area of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Gas stations and grocery stores in communities in the path of the storm are reporting a shortage of supplies due to brisk business ahead of the storm’s arrival.
The storm knocked out power for about 16,000 customers in south Florida, and more than 550 airline flights were canceled at Miami International Airport
At 5 AM on Monday, Isaac was centered about 180 miles southwest of Fort Meyers, FL, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm has top sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving west-northwest at about 14 mph.
Florida is dealing with its first major storm since 2005, when it was struck four times by major hurricanes, including Katrina and Wilma.
Water damage related to hurricanes is usually the result of torrential rains and flooding, both of which can wreak havoc on homes and businesses, with repair bills easily running into hundreds of thousands of dollars. While water restoration should ideally begin as soon as possible after it occurs, in many cases involving hurricanes, the process may not begin for a period of several days, until conditions stabilize and residents are allowed to return and take stock of the extent of damage to their property. Under no circumstances should anyone make the attempt to return home until the all-clear has been given by emergency management officials. Even then, extreme caution should be taken when navigating roads on the return trip. Residents should be aware of flooded areas and downed power lines which may prove dangerous.