Federal disaster aid headed to Florida, Alabama

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Latest on Hurricane Nate (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday the federal government has issued an emergency declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in the Panhandle following Hurricane Nate. A similar declaration was issued for the state of Alabama.

Scott said that will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any needed disaster assistance in the two counties, although there are no reports of major damage or deaths in the area.

As of midday about 6,800 electric customers were without power in Florida, the governor said.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi, early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression by midday Sunday.

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12:30 p.m.

Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos have been given the all-clear to reopen while the region recovers from Hurricane Nate.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission said on its website that coastal casinos were allowed to re-open as of 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Closures were ordered Saturday as Nate approached.

The storm hit the coast with surges of up to 10 feet, and some casinos reported ground level flooding.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi early Sunday. By midday Sunday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami had downgraded Nate to a tropical depression.

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12:30 p.m.

Officials are assessing storm damage to the manmade beach that lines much of Mississippi's coast.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said the process of cleaning sand and debris from beachfront U.S. 90 will take at least until Monday.

Officials say a storm surge of up to 10 feet was received near the Alabama state line.

Damage to about 25 structures has been reported so far in Mississippi, and electricity was slowly being restored.

The total number of customer without power fell to about 32,000 at 11 a.m. Sunday, from nearly 50,000 at the height of the storm.

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11 a.m.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said the hurricanes that have struck the U.S. and its territories this year - four so far - have "strained" resources.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long told ABC's "This Week" that some 85 percent of the agency's forces were deployed and still working on issues created by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and now Nate.

He said that "in regards to resources, of course we're strained" because "nearly 85 percent of my entire agency is deployed right now. We're still working massive issues in Harvey, Irma, as well as the issues in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and now this one."

Nate struck the U.S. as a Category 1 storm on Saturday but has since weakened substantially. The National Hurricane Center in Miami downgraded the storm to "tropical depression" strength and discontinued all hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches for the Gulf Coast.

Winds gusts of tropical storm force were expected over the Florida Panhandle and portions of Alabama and Georgia on Sunday, the hurricane center said. Water levels remained elevated along portions of the northern Gulf Coast, but were expected to gradually subside by midday Sunday.

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7 a.m.

Tropical Storm Nate is dumping heavy amounts of rain as it weakens and moves northward and away from the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Nate's maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 45 mph (75 kph) with higher gusts. The storm is expected to continue to rapidly weaken as it moves farther inland across the Deep South, Tennessee Valley and central Appalachian mountains. Through Monday, those areas can expect at least 3 to 6 inches of rain.

The hurricane center discontinued its storm surge warning for the area west of the Mississippi-Alabama border. A tropical storm warning was discontinued for the area west of the Alabama-Florida border.

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6:15 a.m.

More than 100,000 residents in Mississippi and Alabama are without power following the arrival of Nate.

Alabama Power Co. said about 59,000 customers lost their electricity in the state. About 53,000 of those were in the Mobile area.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said Mississippi Power and the state's electric power associations reported a total of about 48,000 customers without power early Sunday.

Nate made landfall in Mississippi early Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane and later weakened to a tropical storm.

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5:50 a.m.

A storm surge from Hurricane Nate pushed over the beachfront highway of U.S. 90 in Biloxi, flooding the parking structure of the Golden Nugget casino.

Water kept going several blocks deep into the area.

Pascagoula also reported that storm surge flooded downtown streets in that coastal city.

Thousands were without power in southern Mississippi.

Nate made landfall in Mississippi early Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane and later weakened to a tropical storm. The storm marks the first time a hurricane has made landfall in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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5:50 a.m.

Nate's rising water has flooded homes and cars on Alabama's coast and inundated at least one major thoroughfare in downtown Mobile.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier says he woke up around 3 a.m. Sunday to discover knee-deep water in his yard. Although some homes and cars on the island have flooded, Collier said he hadn't heard of any reports of residents needing to be rescued from the floodwaters. Collier also says the water levels appeared to be falling as dawn approached.

Storm surge also flooded Water Street in downtown Mobile and a ground-level causeway across Mobile Bay. Alabama Department of Transportation traffic cameras show water still standing on both those routes before dawn Sunday.

Gregory Robinson, a spokesman for the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said there were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths.

Various Alabama utilities report more than 59,000 customers are without electricity.

Nate made landfall in Mississippi early Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane and later weakened to a tropical storm.

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3:55 a.m.

Nate has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves inland over Mississippi and Alabama.

The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased Sunday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is expected to continue quickly weakening.

Earlier Sunday, Nate came ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi, as a hurricane, the first the make a direct hit on the state since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Nate has brought stinging rain to the Gulf Coast and its powerful winds have pushed water onto roads. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported.

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1 a.m.

Hurricane Nate came ashore along Mississippi's coast outside Biloxi, the first hurricane to make landfall in the state since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm had maximum sustained winds early Sunday near 85 mph (140 kph) with weakening expected as it moves inland. It was centered about 5 miles (10 kilometers) north of Biloxi and moving north near at 20 mph (31 kph).

It was Nate's second landfall. Saturday night, the storm came ashore along a sparsely populated area in southeast Louisiana.

Nate brought stinging rain to the Gulf Coast and its powerful winds pushed water onto roads. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported.

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10 p.m.

Hurricane Nate is moving closer to the Mississippi coast and is expected to come ashore near Biloxi with winds of about 85 mph (137 kph).

The National Hurricane Center said Nate was about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Biloxi. Forecasters say it will make landfall within the next hour or two. After that, the center of the storm will move across the Deep South, Tennessee Valley and central Appalachian Mountains through Monday.

Nate is expected to weaken after landfall.

The storm made its first landfall in a sparsely populated area of southeast Louisiana.

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8:45 p.m.

New Orleans' mayor is lifting a curfew as Hurricane Nate passes by and appears to spare the city known for its all-night partying.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Saturday night that he lifted the curfew because the National Weather Service cancelled a hurricane warning for city.

He still recommends people shelter in place because of the tropical storm-force winds. Some of the watering holes along the well-known bar-hopping Bourbon Street closed while others stayed open, despite the curfew.

The streets were not as crowded as a typical Saturday night.

7 p.m.

Hurricane Nate has made landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi River as a Category 1 storm with winds of 85 mph (137 kph).

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday night that Nate is expected to make a second landfall along the coast of Mississippi on Saturday night and then pass over parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

The storm has weakened slightly and is moving north a little slower at 20 mph (32 kph). Evacuations have been ordered along the central Gulf Coast and people are hunkering down as they wait on the storm.

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6 p.m.

Officials say they have had to rescue people from two sailboats as Hurricane Nate approaches the Gulf Coast, kicking up high waves and winds.

The first rescue happened about 12 p.m. Saturday when two people had to be helped off a 41-foot sailboat that lost its engine in Lake Pontchartrain. The Coast Guard says both sailors were in stable condition.

The second rescue occurred in the Mississippi Sound. Melissa Scallon, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, says a distress call came in around 3 p.m. Saturday after a sailboat struck rocks at Bayou Caddy west of Waveland.

Scallon says the state Marine Patrol responded and plucked three people from the water. She says they were not hurt.

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4:30 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hurricane Nate is about 50 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River at Louisiana's southeastern tip. The storm is moving north-northwest toward the Gulf Coast at an unusually fast 23 mph (37 kph).

With maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph), Nate had not gained strength as of the center's 4 p.m. advisory. But forecasters said it might still reach Category 2 strength of 96 mph or more by the time it makes landfall.

Nate was on a track that could take it over or near the mouth of the Mississippi by around 7 p.m. on its way to a later landfall on the Louisiana or Mississippi coast.

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3 p.m.

Officials in Alabama and Mississippi say their states are starting to see impacts from the fast-approaching Hurricane Nate.

On Alabama's Dauphin Island, Mayor Jeff Collier reports water had already begun washing over the road on the island's low-lying west end.

The city of Gulf Shores, meanwhile, has issued an evacuation order for beachfront properties, and shelters have been opened along the state's coastal counties.

In Mississippi, state Emergency Management Director Lee Smithson said 67 people were already in shelters in two coastal counties while strong winds and high tides were driving Gulf of Mexico waters over roads near the Louisiana state line.

And Gov. Phil Bryant says the state's National Guard has mobilized 75 soldiers and the Highway Patrol has moved an additional 60 state troopers into south Mississippi.

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2:20 p.m.

Airports in some southern states are closing in anticipation of Hurricane Nate.

The Pensacola International Airport in Florida and the Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama say they are closing Saturday before the storm makes landfall.

The Florida airport said it will close by 6 p.m., remain closed through Sunday and hopefully resume operations Monday morning.

Officials at the Alabama airport said they hope to reopen Sunday around noon.

Officials at the airports say passengers should contact their airlines for information about rebooking flights.

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1:45 p.m.

More than 40 percent of manned oil- and gas-producing platforms in the Gulf of Mexico have been evacuated, according to an update from the Interior Department, as Hurricane Nate churns toward the U.S. mainland.

The Department said Saturday that workers were evacuated from 312 of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf.

Crews also have been taken off 13 of 20 manned drilling rigs and other rigs have been moved out of the storm's path.

About one-fifth of U.S. oil is produced in the Gulf. The platforms mostly avoided Hurricane Harvey in late August.

Nate is speeding north-northwest over the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say the hurricane is expected to make landfall Saturday night along the central U.S. Gulf Coast - likely with Category 2 strength.

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1 p.m.

Governors in Louisiana and Florida are urging residents to make final preparations for Hurricane Nate's impending arrival.

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Saturday that people in the southeastern part of the state should hunker down by 3 p.m.

He says the storm's eye is expected to make landfall about four hours later, likely bringing limited rain but powerful storm surges and strong winds.

The state National Guard, meanwhile, has mobilized 1,300 troops and positioned high-water vehicles, boats and even school buses from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to help with rescues.

Edwards said he also spoke with President Trump Saturday morning, who assured him the federal government was prepared to respond as well.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said the roughly 100,000 residents in evacuation zones should heed warnings, stick to their emergency plan and stay vigilant for updates from local officials.

He said the hurricane could bring not just storm surges and strong winds to the Panhandle, but also tornadoes.

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12 p.m.

Early voting is wrapping up sooner than scheduled in parts of Louisiana because of Hurricane Nate.

Meg Casper Sunstrom, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office, said voters in some southeastern parishes will have until 3 p.m. on Saturday to cast their ballots early.

The parishes affected are in the New Orleans-area, including Orleans, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Tammany parishes.

Early voting will continue to close at 6 p.m. in the state's other parishes.

Saturday is the last day of the week-long early voting period. Louisiana has a statewide election Oct. 14, and New Orleans has a hotly contested mayor's race on the ballot.

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11 p.m.

The National Weather Service is placing much of Alabama under a tropical storm warning.

Forecasters said Saturday that Hurricane Nate could bring wind gusts of up to 60 mph (95 kph) across much of the central part of the state, which includes Birmingham, the state's largest city.

The storm is expected to down trees and cause significant power outages. Isolated tornadoes were also possible Sunday afternoon.

On Alabama's Gulf coast, some communities have already imposed mandatory curfews from Saturday evening through Sunday morning. They've also ordered beaches and fishing piers closed and issued voluntary evacuation orders.

On Florida's Panhandle, officials have ordered evacuations in some low-lying areas. They're also warning beachgoers to stay out of the Gulf of Mexico as the storm is already whipping up deadly rip currents and rough surf.

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12 p.m.

Flood-prone underpasses in New Orleans will be blocked to traffic in anticipation of possible heavy rain from Hurricane Nate.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu made the announcement Saturday as Nate was moving swiftly toward the northern Gulf Coast.

Motorists who stall their cars while trying to drive through high water at the underpasses are a recurring problem during heavy rains. The move to block access to underpasses comes as the city works to fix recently revealed weaknesses in its drainage system.

Nate was on a forecast track taking it past Louisiana's southeast tip by around 7 p.m., heading for an expected Mississippi landfall.

Among precautions in Mississippi: transportation officials say highway crews are lowering the high masts that hold street lights to keep the lights from becoming projectiles in expected high winds.

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11:45 a.m.

Some oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are being shut down as Hurricane Nate churns toward the U.S. mainland.

Federal officials said Friday that workers were evacuated from 66 oil- and gas-producing platforms in the Gulf, about 9 percent of the total of manned facilities.

The Interior Department says crews also have been taken off five drilling rigs and other rigs have been moved out of the storm's path.

About one-fifth of U.S. oil is produced in the Gulf. The platforms mostly avoided Hurricane Harvey in late August.

Nate is speeding north-northwest over the central Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane. Forecasters say the hurricane is expected to make landfall Saturday night along the central U.S. Gulf Coast.

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10 a.m.

Strengthening Hurricane Nate is now expected to be a Category 2 hurricane at landfall on the central Gulf Coast in coming hours.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Nate's top sustained winds have recently risen to 90 mph (150 kph) and the core is now about 180 miles (285 kilometers) south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

As of 10 a.m. CDT Saturday, Nate was accelerating to 26 mph (43 kph) and headed north-northwest on a course expected to take it onto the central Gulf Coast on Saturday night. Forecasters say the hurricane-force winds extend out up to 35 miles (55 kph), mainly to the east of the eye.

In addition to hurricane warnings and tropical storm warnings already in place along a wide stretch of Gulf Coast, a new tropical storm warning has been issued in the Florida Panhandle from east of the Okaloosa-Walton County line to Indian Pass, Florida.

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9:45 a.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says President Donald Trump has approved a pre-disaster emergency declaration for 17 parishes.

Edwards said Saturday morning he spoke with Trump as Hurricane Nate headed for the Gulf Coast.

Nate's forecast track would take it past the southeastern tip of Louisiana Saturday evening, heading for a landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But forecasters warned people from eastern Louisiana and into Alabama to be on alert for the storm's effects.

Louisana's Lafourche (lah_FOOSH') Parish is the latest to order a mandatory evacuation. Officials there ordered a mandatory evacuation of part of the town of Golden Meadow Saturday morning.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency announced the opening of shelters on the coast Saturday. Alabama also was opening shelters for coastal residents.

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8:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump has approved an emergency declaration for a large area of Louisiana and ordered federal assistance for the state as Hurricane Nate approaches the central Gulf of Mexico.

A White House statement released early Saturday said the president authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate all federal disaster relief efforts. The statement says the move is intended to speed aid, save lives and protect property and public safety in the region. It specifically identifies 17 parishes, many in coastal Louisiana.

The statement comes as Nate is speeding north-northwest over the central Gulf of Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane. Forecasters say the hurricane is expected to make landfall Saturday night along the central U.S. Gulf Coast.

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8 a.m.

Hurricane Nate has gotten a little stronger as it races across the central Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Nate is moving toward the north-northwest at about 22 mph, and the core of the hurricane is expected to make landfall Saturday night on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The center says a hurricane hunter aircraft found maximum sustained winds in the Category 1 storm have risen to near 85 mph with higher gusts. Forecasters say some more strengthening is possible before Nate makes landfall.

At 8 a.m. Saturday, Nate was centered about 245 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. A hurricane warning is in effect from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border as well as for the New Orleans metro area and nearby Lake Pontchartrain.



 
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