(UPI) — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Friday ordered the mandatory evacuation of residents living outside the city’s levee system.
The evacuation includes Venetian Isles, Lake Catherine and Irish Bayou, which must be vacated by noon Saturday, a news release from the city said. Flood gates would be closed at that point.
“Storm surge, potentially in excess of 6 to 9 feet, is a primary threat from Nate in areas outside the levees,” the statement said.
The National Hurricane Center reported metropolitan New Orleans was under a hurricane warning, hurricane watch, tropical storm warning as well as a storm surge warning. Watches and warnings cover much of the Louisiana coast and east to Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for Nate, which is expected to strengthen to a hurricane before making landfall in the United States.
In addition to evacuation orders, the mayor implemented a city-wide curfew to go into effect at 7 p.m. Saturday until Sunday morning after the severe weather had passed.
“The public is advised that beyond a certain point weather conditions will make it impossible for first responders to answer emergency calls,” a statement said.
The city called on the public to shelter in place throughout the duration of the storm, and that people traveling for work or emergency personnel were allowed to be on the roads as long as it was safe to do so. Public transportation would be suspended once winds exceed 35 mph.
Earlier Friday, Landrieu declared a state of emergency in the city and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared an emergency statewide.
“Everyone in South Louisiana should be preparing for this storm now. Anyone who’s taken this storm lightly is making a serious mistake.” Edwards said.
Oil and natural gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have already been evacuated.
The storm killed at least 22 people after passing through Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras late Thursday and early Friday.
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