NEW ORLEANS (CBSMiami) — The Gulf Coast took a direct hit from Hurricane Isaac Tuesday night.
The storm made landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi River at around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday night. While many residents stayed put, evacuations were ordered in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, where officials closed 12 shorefront casinos. By late Tuesday, more than 200,000 homes and businesses had lost power.
The storm, which already killed 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, halted most of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, also left parts of South Florida flooded.
Earlier Tuesday, FEMA said it was already on the ground.
“We don’t wait for disasters to be declared or requests to come in, we’re already in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and we have supplies coming in,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
Gene Kohrman has lived on the gulf for 20 years and has been through his share of storms. He’s staying put.
“It’s loud, it’s noisy, you’re going to be knocked around, and if you’re not used to it it’s going to scare the dickens out of you,” said Kohrman.
In New Orleans, Isaac is stirring up memories of Hurricane Katrina, which hit seven years ago Wednesday.
But Mayor Mitch Landrieu said after 10 billion dollars in improvements to the levee system, the city is prepared to weather the storm. Still he’s warning residents to use common sense.
“A category one and category two storm can bring significant damage in terms of wind, water, or electric, and a lot of loss of life comes from people being careless and not paying attention,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Interstate 10 heading out of town was packed Monday with evacuees.
“I almost made the mistake of staying for Katrina and I said I would never make that mistake again,” said Sean Rastanis who evacuated to Baton Rouge.
New Orleans’ airport was also busy but now all flights are canceled.
In areas like Plaquemines Parish, there are mandatory evacuations, an eerie reminder of seven years ago.
“It’s crazy, it brings back devastated memories. I lost a lot of stuff down home and I’m just hoping for the best,” said Plaquemines Parish resident Anthony Frankovich.
More than 50-thousand people in low-lying areas have been told to evacuate. But not everyone will listen because they said they’re confident the rebuilt, 14 billion dollar levee system will hold and keep them safe.
The waterfront community of Venetian Isles is outside the levee system. Almost all of the one thousand residents are leaving.
“We had a couple of people stay for Katrina believe it or not, and it was very scary for them. And I said are you going to stay again? And they said absolutely not,” according to Venetian Isles resident Cheryl Kelly.
It was the failed levees that flooded New Orleans after Katrina. More than 1,800 people were killed and the damage reached more than $81 billion.
But officials say this time, the city is ready.
Mississippi and Alabama are also in the path of the storm. The Governors of those states, as well as Louisiana, have declared states of emergency.