Tropical Storm Isaac has gained Category 1 hurricane strength as it continued on its path to New Orleans, bringing with it torrential rain and winds and turning the party city into a ghost town.
Seven years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Isaac will test the city’s USD$14.5 billion flood-control system and 26-foot high levees, which were closed on Tuesday.
At the time of publishing, the centre of Isaac was nearing the coast of southeast Louisiana with storm surge flooding already reported and maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometres per hour.
The port of New Orleans closed yesterday; making it the fourth embarkation port affected by Isaac and is scheduled to reopen on 30 August.
President Barack Obama sent a warning to all residents of the Gulf Coast in a televised statement imploring all people in its path to follow directions.
“I want to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions, including if they tell you to evacuate,” President Obama said.
“We’re dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area. Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been in place since last week to assist local officials in Isaac’s path and to help communities with supplies and preparation.
“I’ll continue to make sure that the federal government is doing everything possible to help the American people prepare for and recover from this dangerous storm,” President Obama said before promising to provide continuous updates on Isaac’s activity on both a local and national level.
Hurricane Isaac has also affected several cruise ship itineraries, with lines including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and the American Queen Steamboat Company diverting and delaying voyages.