President Obama declared a state of emergency in Louisiana as Tropical Storm Isaac neared the Gulf Coast, where it's expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane as early as tonight. The declaration makes federal funding available for storm-related emergency activities, reports AP. The storm is following Hurricane Katrina's path and headed directly for New Orleans, but officials warn that a much larger area will be affected. "This is not a New Orleans storm," FEMA chief Craig Fugate told reporters. "This is a Gulf Coast storm. Some of the heaviest impact may be in Alabama and Mississippi."
In New Orleans, there has been no city-wide evacuations, and most residents are hunkering down and getting ready to ride out the storm, the Times-Picayune finds. Residents have been warned that they may lose power and water for a few days, but Isaac is weaker than Katrina and officials are confident that $14.5 billion in improvement to flood control systems will help the city avoid the kind of devastation caused by the storm that hit seven years ago. "There is nothing this storm can bring us that we do not believe we're prepared to handle," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a storm briefing yesterday. "I believe that everything is going to be OK."