NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he's considering skipping his speaking engagement at Republican National Convention because of Tropical Storm Isaac.
Jindal said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that he wouldn't leave his state while it's threatened by the storm. Around the time he spoke, a hurricane warning was issued for parts of the state east of Morgan City, which includes the New Orleans area.
He also called a state of emergency in Louisiana and suggested that people leave low-lying parts of coastal parishes.
Isaac is expected to be a strong Category 2 hurricane when it comes ashore along the Gulf Coast late Tuesday or Wednesday. Wednesday is the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
FOX 8 News received the following news release from Governor Jindal's office at 4:58 Sunday afternoon:
BATON ROUGE – Following a meeting of the Unified Command Group at the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Governor Bobby Jindal urged Louisianians to get prepared for Tropical Storm Isaac and encouraged voluntary evacuations for people in parishes in the hurricane watch zone that are in low lying areas, areas South of the Intracoastal Waterway and areas outside of levee protection.
Governor Jindal said, "Tropical Storm Isaac continues to track westward and a hurricane watch is in effect for 15 Louisiana parishes. This includes the New Orleans metro area and the parishes adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain. The National Weather Service expects the storm to become a hurricane in the next 12 hours and the current forecast shows it will become a Category 2 at landfall.
"We are encouraging everyone to get prepared now to ensure that you have an evacuation plan in place, plenty of water, non-perishable food items, hygiene supplies, sufficient clothing, and any prescription medications you or your family may need in the event of the storm. We are urging Louisianians to stay alert and monitor local weather conditions in their area. As with every storm, we always hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
"State and local officials are taking a number of steps to protect our people and property from the storm. In addition to issuing a State of Emergency for the storm, we are in touch with parish leaders and we are recommending voluntary evacuations within the hurricane watch area. Specifically, this is for people in low lying areas, areas outside of levee protection, and areas south of the Intracoastal Waterway."
Parishes in the Hurricane Watch area include:
• St. Bernard
• St. Charles
• St. James
• St. John
• St. Tammany
PARISH STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARATION
• Some parishes have declared a state of emergency, including:
o Jefferson Parish
o Orleans Parish
o Plaquemines Parish
o St Charles Parish
• CPRA is coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as area levee and conservation districts, to monitor rising water levels to determine appropriate times to close flood and navigation gates on area waterways if necessary.
• CPRA is also coordinating with levee districts and parish emergency operations centers to monitor water levels on area levee systems and identify potential deficiencies to determine if additional assets are needed for potential flood fighting from elevated tides, storm surges or rainfall.
• Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East:
o Lake Borgne Levee District – Closed all gates on the Chalmette loop and will close Bayou Bienvenue structure today.
o Orleans Levee District - closed 40 non-essential gates yesterday.
• Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West Field crews activated, and will begin closing non-essential gates today.
• Corps of Engineers is considering closure today of the IHNC (Inner Harbor Navigational Channel), the massive floodwall that reduces the risk of storm surge from Lake Borgne pushing into St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, the 9th Ward, and Metro New Orleans.
Reports from Parishes
South Lafourche Levee District
• System is open to navigation and lock closure will be reevaluated tomorrow morning.
• In the Laffite area, the state has repurposed $150,000 for emergency flood fighting
• In Grand Isle, emergency work is being done on back levee between Orange and Walnut Streets, and on Caminada levee around Hebert Street.
• CPRA offering assistance should back levees need raising or additional protection needed for Highway 23.
• Coordinating closure of gaps in ongoing Corps projects. Corps is going to make all closures with existing contractors on site.
Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District (TLCD)
• All gates and structures remain open at this time. TLCD encouraging all marine boaters to keep a close watch on updates, and to mobilize marine vessels to safe positions. Anticipating closure of some structures late tomorrow (Monday) afternoon.
• Governor Jindal has authorized the National Guard to mobilize up to 4,000 Guardsmen to help support the effort. The National Guard also has 75 generators positioned if needed.
• The state is activating contracts to provide buses to help with evacuations. By tomorrow, 200 buses will be available.
• The Department of Education has also identified 50 buses, and if schools close, there will be approximately 150 buses from schools.
• DOTD has also stopped collecting tolls on LA-1.
SHELTERING/CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES/DHH
• The state has 27,400 slots for critical transportation needs beds, medical needs beds and point to point shelters. In addition, Red Cross has 28,000 beds available.
• DCFS is also working with day care and residential licensed facilities, as well as foster care parents, to ensure they have a plan in place.
• DHH has provided a notice to members, including hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis network, and other medical institutions to update recall rosters, top-off generators, and take other preparatory actions for institutional readiness.
WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES
• Coastal and Nongame Division personnel will begin securing all loose gear and small equipment items at coastal wildlife management area offices.
• Additionally, all vehicles and boats will be fully fueled in preparation for any evacuation measures that may be required.
• Over 200 agents and vessels are on standby, monitoring the storm and preparing search and rescue equipment. The Enforcement Division will move equipment from the coastal parishes that may be in harm's way to the north.
• The Office of Fisheries will begin securing all loose gear and equipment items.
• DNR has required Texas Brine to develop a plan to ensure safe operations in the area of the drilling operations and sinkhole in assumption parish.
• Prior to landfall, the drilling derrick will be layed down, all equipment will be secured and work will stop and personnel evacuated if necessary.
• DNR staff will remain on site to oversee these operations until the site is secured and evacuation begins.
• 50 percent of offshore oil production and 40 percent of natural gas production has been shut in. As the storm continues to move west, 90 percent of oil production and 75 percent of natural gas production is expected to be shut in.
• All state correctional facilities and Probation and Parole District Offices were notified on Friday to review pre-storm plans and take necessary action (such as checking generators, topping fuel tanks, checking food and supply inventories, securing computer equipment, etc.).
• The Department of corrections is working with coastal parishes to evacuate any inmates that need to be evacuated, starting with those in temporary facilities
• If necessary, the Bridge City Center for Youth near New Orleans will evacuate youth to Jetson Center for Youth in Baker. Jetson is ready to receive the youth.
• DEQ has 201 approved debris sites identified for the post-storm response.