With Katrina in mind, residents prepare for Isaac (+video)
Tropical Storm Isaac is predicted to become a Category 2 hurricane by Wednesday, but it is much weaker than Katrina's damaging category 5 status. Still states of emergency were in place throughout much of the Gulf Coast region Monday.
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Still, all the preparation may not matter if flooding becomes the greatest threat. In Pascagoula, Miss., Nannette Clark was supervising a work crew installing wood coverings over windows of her more than 130-year-old home. But she said all that won't matter if a storm surge reaches her home, as it did after Katrina in 2005.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Hurricane Isaac
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"The water was up to the first landing of the stairs," she said. "So I get very nervous about it."
Isaac's approach on the eve of the Katrina anniversary invited obvious comparisons, but Isaac is nowhere near as powerful as the Katrina was when it struck on Aug. 29, 2005. Katrina at one point reached Category 5 status with winds of over 157 mph. It made landfall as a Category 3 storm and created a huge storm surge.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said the updated levees around New Orleans are equipped to handle storms stronger than Isaac. Levee failures led to the catastrophic flooding in the area after Katrina.
"It's a much more robust system than what it was when Katrina came ashore," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in a conference call with reporters.
In New Orleans, officials had no plans to order evacuations and instead told residents to hunker down and make do with the supplies they had.
"It's going to be all right," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Isaac could pack a watery double punch for the Gulf Coast. If it hits during high tide, Isaac could push floodwaters as deep as 12 feet onto shore in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and up to 6 feet in the Florida Panhandle, while dumping up to 18 inches of rain over the region, the National Weather Service warned.
As of 8 p.m. EDT on Monday, Isaac remained a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (110 kph). Its center was about 230 miles (370 km) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it was moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).
On the Alabama coast, Billy Cannon, 72, was preparing to evacuate with several cars packed with family and four Chihuahuas from a home on a peninsula in Gulf Shores. Cannon, who has lived on the coast for 30 years, said he thinks the order to evacuate Monday was premature.
"If it comes in, it's just going to be a big rain storm. I think they overreacted, but I understand where they're coming from. It's safety," he said.