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Gulf Coast States Brace For Isaac's Fury


Florida has so far been spared the worst of Tropical Storm Isaac. Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana cannot be so sure. If the storm stays on its current course, it threatens to hit Louisiana seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina arrived in New Orleans. NPR's Greg Allen is tracking the storm. He's on the line from Florida this morning.

Greg, good morning.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How much damage was there from Isaac in Florida?

ALLEN: Well, here, really not much at all. It was described by - I heard one official describe it as an exercise for people here in Florida. The real damage so far was in the Caribbean, particularly in Dominican Republic and in Haiti, where we had several people who were killed. When it came through here, as it did there, it came through as a strong tropical storm. But it kind of glanced us. I think most people stayed at home behind their shutters and off the roads. And because of that, I think we came through pretty well.

INSKEEP: So the hundreds of delegates and thousands of reporters in Tampa for the Republican convention are fine. Is that what you're saying?

ALLEN: Well, yes. And it hasn't reached Tampa. That will be going by Tampa later today. But I think we expect now the track of the storm seems to be taking it far out to the west, right to the center of the Gulf of Mexico. So Tampa should not feel any really severe direct impact from the storm. I mean, maybe some high surf, maybe some rain. We'll see. But as it turns out, I think they're going to be spared the worst of it.

INSKEEP: Although, when you say it's heading out to the Gulf of Mexico, even as they make that forecast, forecasters are saying that it could turn into a hurricane. Is it really going to hit New Orleans? What are the odds here, anyway?

ALLEN: Well, they don't talk in the case of the odds. But when you look at the track, they look at several models, and the National Hurricane Center takes them all into account. They've right now put the very large cone over a good portion of the Gulf States, all the way from Alabama to Louisiana. Those are all states that are under a hurricane warning. The state governors, all those states, have declared states of emergency. Some of the models show it going right to New Orleans. And as you say, the landfall could be on Wednesday, which as we know is that anniversary of Katrina.

INSKEEP: Which you know very well, Greg Allen, because you were in a hotel in New Orleans when Katrina came ashore back in 2005. People must be very focused on this and making preparations.

ALLEN: Yes, but I think this is not a Katrina event yet. I don't think they think it'll get anything like that. Mayor Landrieu there in New Orleans is telling people to shelter in place. They're ordering some evacuations for coastal parishes, low-lying, which are likely to flood from a six to 12-foot storm surge. But the city, I think, they think is strong enough to stand this. We'll see as we get closer in the hurricane, if it does strengthen into a hurricane. Right now, it's just a tropical storm, and it's strengthening only slowly. So we'll have to just wait and see what happens between now and Tuesday, when it's supposed to get hurricane status.

INSKEEP: I suppose that's another reminder, when you have one of these every few years - or even several in a year - you have to work them into daily life.

ALLEN: That's right. Life goes on there, and here in Miami, we'll be getting back to normal later today, I think.

INSKEEP: Greg, thanks very much.

ALLEN: My pleasure, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Greg Allen in Miami this morning, giving us the latest on the progress of Tropical Storm Isaac. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.
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