Louisiana gears up for Isaac

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - As Tropical Storm Isaac churned hundreds of miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana geared up Monday for what has become an almost familiar Labor Day week event.

On Sunday, Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency, and officials in some coastal parishes either ordered evacuations or strongly suggested people leave low-lying areas. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also declared a state of emergency but said there are no plans to evacuate the city.

Landrieu urged residents to hunker down and prepare for the possibility for several days without power.

Grocery and home improvement stores as well as fuel stations reported brisk business. Some gas stations were running out of supplies.

Isaac, bedeviling forecasters who continued to shift its path westward, was most likely to come ashore on Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In 2011, Tropical Storm Lee struck over the Labor Day period, and Hurricane Gustav hit over the Labor Day holiday in 2008. Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005.

Jefferson Parish President John Young said the New Orleans suburb is preparing for Isaac but expects that pumping and levee improvements made since Katrina will be adequate to handle Isaac. Some schools systems in southeast Louisiana were closed through Wednesday or were considering closures.

In coastal Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, where Isaac is forecast to come ashore on Wednesday, parish officials were handing out sandbags to residents to shore up their properties. State transportation officials suspended tolls on the Louisiana Highway 1 bridge in Lafourche Parish to help with coastal evacuation.

Tolls also were suspended on the Crescent City Connection, the bridge that links downtown New Orleans with communities on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

Some fuel stations were reporting they were out of gasoline. Business at grocery and home improvement stores picked up on Sunday.

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