NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - Two hurricanes could hit southeast Louisiana two days apart, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said Saturday.
Tracks were still uncertain Saturday, and both systems were still tropical storms. But the center issued a hurricane watch for the New Orleans area, indicating that hurricane-force winds could arrive within 48 hours. The city of New Orleans advised residents to have five days’ worth of food and water on hand, rather than the usual three.
Tropical Storms Laura and Marco both appeared to be heading toward the same general area. Gov. John Bel Edwards, who declared a state of emergency on Friday so the state can help local governments prepare for the storms, asked President Donald Trump on Saturday for a federal emergency declaration.
"The cumulative impact of these storms will likely have much of Louisiana facing tropical storm/hurricane force impacts for a much longer period of time than it would with any one hurricane," he wrote. "These extended impacts could bring flooding and wind damage to numerous Louisiana communities statewide."
Both are projected to approach the Gulf Coast at or close to hurricane force — Marco possibly on Monday afternoon and Laura on Wednesday afternoon. But the times were uncertain, and forecasts so far have changed widely for the storms.
Winds could reach 119 to 177 kph, the National Weather Service said.
Mariners were warned that "Tropical Storm Marco is expected to begin affecting the coastal waters by early Monday morning and continue to affect the waters through Tuesday. Tropical Storm Laura will then begin impacting the waters by Tuesday night and continue to impact the waters through early Thursday morning."
Raymond Monday of Gretna, a New Orleans suburb on the west bank of the Mississippi River, said, "They're only (expected to be) Category 1, so I'm not really worried." Most carts in the Sam's Club there held cases of bottled water stacked high, but his held only a generator.
He said he didn't need anything else — he has a freezer full of food and ballpark-sized containers of water at home. The generator has electric ignition so his wife or daughter can start it if he's not there, he said.
Danielle Braud also wasn't terribly worried: "I was here for Katrina." Her cart held baby Gabriel in an infant seat and — among other items — several cases of water, at least one of Gatorade and a box of frozen pancake-wrapped sausages. She said her next stop would be the diaper aisle.
In Acadiana, KATC-TV reported where people could get sandbags, and whether they needed to bring their own shovels.
Residents of Cameron Parish, on the coast's southwest edge, began stocking up, filling gas tanks and getting generators ready Friday morning, Emergency Director Danny Lavergne told KPLC-TV.
"The residents are ready," he said Friday.
Cattle farmers began moving their stock and heavy equipment even earlier, he said. People need to consider both storm safety and the dangers of the coronavirus, said Lavergne: "Bring your mask, hand sanitizer, plan plenty of time to get to your destination; have more than one route."
Cameron Parish is subject to storm surge.
"Our job is to protect life and property, but life is first so if we call an evacuation it's to make sure you have enough time for you and your family to get out," Lavergne said.