Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging residents of Southeast Louisiana to make storm preparations as forecasters warn Tropical Storm Sally could strengthen to a hurricane before making landfall Tuesday morning. The slow-moving storm could cause flash flooding and storm surge.
“We have every reason to believe this storm presents a significant threat to the people of Louisiana,” Edwards said. “We only have to go back a couple of weeks to a storm that moved from a tropical storm force to a Category 4 storm in just 36 hours.”
Edwards said that while Sally is not expected to intensify as much as Hurricane Laura did, people in its path should complete their preparations by early Monday afternoon.
Edwards also said the storm could be most threatening as a rain event, with its projected path crossing over areas that are prone to flash flooding.
“The storm center is expected to take 12 hours to move from Kenner to Hammond,” Edwards said. “Think about the amount of rain that can fall during that time period.
The storm is expected to impact New Orleans, where the state is currently housing more than 12,000 Hurricane Laura evacuees in hotels.
Edwards said the state plans to keep those people in place. Sally would have to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane to trigger an evacuation of New Orleans, but even if it did, the state does not have a place to send them.
The state is keeping its mega-shelters closed to avoid spreading the coronavirus, and a surge of Laura evacuees and out-of-state relief workers have filled nearly all of the state’s hotel rooms.
The American Red Cross is prepositioning water, food and other emergency supplies at the hotels in the storm’s path that are housing evacuees, Edwards said.
Edwards declared a state of emergency Saturday evening in advance of the storm.
“While we ultimately don’t know where Sally will make landfall, much of Southeast Louisiana is in the storm’s cone and the risk of tropical-storm-force or hurricane-strength winds continues to increase," Edwards said. "Please stay weather aware for the next several days and heed the directions of your local officials. This storm has the potential to be very serious."
Storm supply kits should include, among other things, a three- to five-day water supply for each person in the household, non-perishable food, first aid kits, hand sanitizer, and personal protective equipment to limit the potential spread of COVID-19.
Additional information on storm preparedness can be found at getagameplan.org.