Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nate Strikes Mouth of Mississippi

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Nate Strikes Mouth of Mississippi

Article excerpt

By Janet McConnaughey, Melinda Deslatte and Jeff Amy

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Hurricane Nate came ashore at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Saturday and pelted the central Gulf Coast with wind and rain as the fast-moving storm steamed toward the Mississippi coast, where it was expected to make another landfall and threatened to inundate homes and businesses in vulnerable low-lying areas.

Nate was expected to pass to the east of New Orleans, sparing the city its most ferocious winds and storm surge. And its quick speed decreased the likelihood of prolonged rain that would tax the city's weakened drainage pump system. Still, the city famous for all-night partying was placed under a curfew, effective at 7 p.m., and the streets were not nearly as crowded as they typically are on a Saturday night.

Cities along the Mississippi coast such as Gulfport and Biloxi were on high alert. Some beachfront hotels and casinos were evacuated. Rain began falling on the region Saturday and forecasters called for 3 to 6 inches with as much as 10 inches in some isolated places.

Nate weakened slightly and was a Category 1 storm with maximum winds of 85 mph when it made landfall in a sparsely populated area of Plaquemines Parish. Forecasters had said it was possible that it could strengthen to a Category 2, but that seemed less likely as the night wore on.

Storm surge threatened low-lying communities in southeast Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama fishing village of Bayou la Batre.

"If it floods again, this will be it. I can't live on promises," said Larry Bertron as said as he and his wife prepared to leave their home in the Braithwaite community of vulnerable Plaquemines Parish. The hurricane veterans lost one home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and left the home they rebuilt after Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

Governors in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency. The three states have been mostly spared during this hectic hurricane season.

"This is the worst hurricane that has impacted Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina," Mississippi Emergency Management Director Lee Smithson said Saturday. "Everyone needs to understand that, that this is a significantly dangerous situation. …

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