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Tropical Storm Isidore Bears Down on Louisiana - 2002-09-25

Tropical storm Isidore is bearing down on the U.S. state of Louisiana with high winds and heavy rains. Residents of coastal regions have been scrambling to secure their property and evacuate flood-prone areas.

Isidore is not expected to strike land before Thursday. But vast stretches from Texas to the Florida panhandle are already feeling the effects of the massive weather system's outer rain bands, as the storm moves steadily northward through the Gulf of Mexico.

Stiff winds, heavy rain and storm surges are battering coastal regions, where residents boarded up homes and businesses and prepared to move inland. Among them, Jim Randle who lives near New Orleans, Louisiana.

"We put boards up for the windows. Really that is it. That is all you can do: board [up] the windows and hope for the best," Mr. Randle said.

Officials in New Orleans have shut flood walls and activated emergency water pumping stations. Schools are closed and hospitals have been asked to postpone all but emergency surgeries and other procedures.

In neighboring Mississippi, a state of emergency has been declared and National Guard troops have been called to active duty.

Sunday, Isidore had grown to a powerful category 3 hurricane on a 1-to-5 scale before striking Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula with winds exceeding 180 kilometers an hour. The storm uprooted trees, downed power lines and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless. But Isidore quickly lost strength over the Yucatan, and the storm has yet to regain hurricane status. Even so, weather forecasters say Isidore's torrential rains still pose a grave danger for people and property alike.

Meanwhile, weather forecasters are keeping a close eye on another tropical storm, Lili, which is headed on a west-northwesterly path towards Haiti and eastern Cuba.