The Latest: Tropical Storm Cindy makes landfall in Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Tropical Storm Cindy has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana, bringing rain and the threat of flash flooding and tornadoes.
As of about 4 a.m. CDT Thursday, the storm was centered about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is moving north near 12 mph (19 kph).
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cindy's maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 40 mph (64 kph) with continued weakening expected over the next two days.
Already, the storm has been blamed for one death Wednesday: A 10-year-old boy from the St. Louis area was killed on an Alabama beach when he was struck by a log that washed ashore.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for the entire state Wednesday as Tropical Storm Cindy roared turned deadly as it roared through the Gulf of Mexico toward the coast.
A 10-year-old boy died in Alabama, parts of Louisiana had five inches of rain by early afternoon and Pensacola was slammed by than 8 inches of rain in 36 hours. And more was on the way.
Flooding and power outages were already reported early Wednesday, several hours before the storm was forecast to approach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas late Wednesday and move inland Thursday. A tropical storm warning was in effect from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the Alabama-Florida border.
Cindy, armed with sustained winds of 50 mph, was forecast to hit with heavy rains totaling 6 to 9 inches and isolated amounts of 12 inches for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and western portions of the Florida Panhandle through Thursday. The storm could produce "life-threatening flash floods along the central Gulf Coast," the National Weather Service said.
“The state’s emergency preparedness and response apparatus are taking Tropical Storm Cindy seriously, and we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well,” Edwards said. "Please do all you can to prepare for the worst while praying for the best.”
Cindy made lanfall in southwest Louisiana early Thursday morning.
In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey also had declared a statewide emergency, citing National Weather Service forecasts for significant flash flooding possible through Thursday as tropical moisture moves northward into the state. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to upgrade to "increased readiness" starting at noon Wednesday.
Localized flooding already was reported in Louisiana in parts of St. Mary Parish, and power outages were reported in Morgan City. Flood control locks and gates were being closed along Louisiana’s coast. Flooding was also reported on Alabama’s Dauphin Island.
Workers on Grand Isle, a barrier island community south of New Orleans, worked to reinforce a rock levee protecting the island’s vulnerable west side. Officials there decided against calling an evacuation but said in a statement that anyone who wanted to head for the mainland should do so as early as possible because water might eventually cover low-lying parts of the only route off the island.
The Louisiana National Guard dispatched high water vehicles and helicopters into flood-prone areas. The state said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was moving 125,000 meals and 200,000 liters of water into Louisiana.
At a news conference in New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged vigilance as bands of rain from the system swept over the city. Forecasts said the system could dump from a few inches to more than 12 inches, depending on Cindy’s development and path. At worst, the storm could flood neighborhoods outside the city’s levee system and cause flash flooding even in protected areas.
“This is going to be a very serious event,” Landrieu said.
In Texas, Abbott activated four Texas Task Force 1 boat squads and two Texas Military Department vehicle squads of five vehicles each to respond to any emergencies. The Department of State Health Services Emergency Medical Task Force, Texas Military Forces Aircraft, and shelter and feeding teams were placed on standby.
“As we have learned in the past, weather patterns can change rapidly and without warning," he said. "I ask all Texans to keep those in the storm’s path, and our brave first responders, in their prayers as they prepare for this storm.”
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