Current models predict Tropical Storm Gordon will make landfall Tuesday night between the Louisiana-Mississippi border as a Category 1 hurricane. However, as anyone who’s lived on the Gulf Coast for some time can attest, storm systems are nothing if not unpredictable. Here’s what to know and how to prepare for Gordon.
What to expect
Tropical Storm Gordon has sustained winds of 65 miles per hour—nine miles below the meteorological threshold for hurricanes. It’s currently 190 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi river and expected to strengthen into a hurricane as it moves over the warm Gulf waters, forecasters say. Areas from the mouth of Pearl River to the Alabama-Florida border are under hurricane warnings. In Louisiana, governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard, according to reporting from CNN.com.
Yesterday in New Orleans, mayor LaToya Cantrell declared a state of emergency and issued a voluntary evacuation notice for areas lying outside the levee system, including Venetian Isles, Lake Catherine, and Irish Bayou. The Flood Protection Authority will close 45 floodgates and 13 valve gates in Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes. Forecasters expect the storm to bring a 2-4 foot storm surge, heavy rainfall of 4-8 inches, power and communication outages, and flash floods. Of the drainage system’s 120 pumps, 116 are functional, according to the Sewerage & Water Board. View a map of flooded and closed streets at Streetwise.nola.gov.
School and business closures
City Hall, government offices, and all public schools in New Orleans are closed Tuesday. See other school closures here. The New Orleans Regional Transport Authority (NORTA) will operate busses and streetcars until winds reach 35 miles per hour. Ferry operations will be continue until the U. S. Coast Guard suspends them. Check NORTA for service alerts here.
How to prepare
- City officials encourage Orleans Parish residents to shelter in place—or, in common parlance, “hunker down.” Clean nearby storm drains and catch basins; secure or bring inside outdoor lawn furniture and decorations; and move vehicles to high ground. You can park your car on the neutral ground beginning at 2 p.m. today.
- Gather supplies including a first aid kit, nonperishable food items, flashlights, batteries, radios, drinking water, prescription medications, matches, and a can opener.
- Make sure your pets are safe indoors and that elderly or infirm neighbors or loved ones are prepared to weather the storm and possible power outages. They can also sign up for the city’s special needs registry.
- St. Tammany Parish residents may pick up sandbags until 7 p.m. today. Other sandbag pickup spots are listed here.
- Sign up for text notifications from NOLA Ready by texting your zip code to 888777. Hurricane Katrina survivors may remember that text messages can get through even when downed cell phone towers prevent voice calls from connecting, so this can be a good way to obtain crucial info. Call 311 to report flooding, downed trees, or clogged catch basins; call 911 for emergencies.
- A few best practices from a non-official standpoint: charge all electronic devices; fill up your gas tank; get cash from the ATM (credit card machines are useless during power outages), procure alcohol; fill the bathtub and sinks up with clean drinking water; move important documents to high shelves in case of flooding; store an axe in the attic; do all your laundry and run the dishwasher in case of longterm power outages; get books, magazines, and board games for entertainment; freeze jugs of water in your freezer to keep contents cold in the event of power outages, and once the power goes out, DO NOT OPEN THE FRIDGE!
Did we miss any crucial storm prep tips? Let us know in the comments, and stay safe!