Major storm hits Florida coastline


Tropical Storm Isaac swirled into the Gulf of Mexico today, disrupting US offshore energy production and threatening to hit Louisiana as a hurricane seven years to the day after devastating Hurricane Katrina.

The storm poses risks to life and could cause extensive damage to states along the US Gulf Coast with a storm surge of up to six to 12 feet, US federal emergency officials said today.

"There are some aspects of this storm that are very concerning, particularly storm surge as well as now potentially heavy rainfall across the area of impact," Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said in a conference call with reporters.

The storm swiped south Florida yesterday before moving into warm Gulf waters, where it is expected to strengthen into at least a Category 1 hurricane.

On its current track, Isaac was due to slam into the Gulf Coast anywhere between Florida and Louisiana by midweek, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

The governors of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi declared states of emergency as a hurricane warning went into effect for the northern Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

It included New Orleans, devastated when Hurricane Katrina swept over the city on August 29th, 2005, killing more than 1,800 people and causing billions of dollars of damage along the coast.

"It is difficult to realize that to the day - seven years after Katrina - another hurricane is headed our way," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said.

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