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Tropical Storm Isaac aims for New Orleans, threatens Gulf

August 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tropical Storm Isaac could become a punishing rain machine as it heads for the Gulf Coast, aiming directly at New Orleans.

Travelers heading out of Los Angeles International Airport were advised Monday to keep an eye on their flights, as Tropical Storm Isaac threatens the Gulf Coast.

No flights at LAX were delayed as of Monday morning. The day prior, hundreds of flights were stalled out of South Florida, and airports in the area were shut down because of the storm.

A tropical storm warning currently spans 300 miles of the Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana. The declaration makes federal funding available for emergency activities related to the storm. The governors of Mississippi and Alabama have also declared a state of emergency.

Residents of those states and the federal government are preparing for the worst. Forecasters predict Isaac will intensify into a Category 1 hurricane later Monday or Tuesday, with a projected path directly toward New Orleans on Wednesday. If Isaac becomes a hurricane, it will arrive just before the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but Isaac is nowhere near as powerful as Katrina was when it struck on Aug. 29, 2005.

The Gulf Coast region has been saturated thanks to a wet summer, and some officials have worried more rain could make it easy for trees and power lines to topple in the wet ground. Too much water also could flood crops, and wind could topple plants like corn and cotton.

"A large, slow-moving system is going to pose a lot of problems - winds, flooding, storm surge and even potentially down the road river flooding," said Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. "That could happen for days after the event."

Isaac has already claimed lives in the Caribbean. Government officials in Haiti say the tropical storm killed 19 people over the weekend. Some Haitians died after their homes collapsed on top of them. Two other people died in the Dominican Republic after they were swept away in a river, bringing the regional death toll to 21.

The storm has also delayed part of the Republican National Convention. Party Chairman Reince Priebus pounded the gavel to kick off the convention, and then almost immediately recessed until Tuesday.

Look for ongoing reports from David Ono at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Eyewitness News will also be at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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