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Hurricane Nate Expected To Hit Gulf Coast As Category 2


Now to what has been another major story this fall - the weather. Hurricane Nate is getting stronger as it takes aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast. That storm was responsible for at least 21 deaths in Central America. It's expected to make land in the U.S. near midnight. And people from southeast Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle are bracing for what forecasters say will be a Category 2 hurricane. NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Hurricane Nate is bringing heavy rains, tornados, flash floods and destructive winds to a wide area of the central Gulf Coast. The biggest danger is storm surge, which the National Weather Service warns can be life threatening. Four Gulf states have declared emergencies and are staging resources, including mobilizing National Guard troops. Curfews are in place and evacuations called for in beachfront and flood-prone areas. In New Orleans East today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu visited one of the neighborhoods outside the city's levee protection system. He's ordered a mandatory evacuation there.


MITCH LANDRIEU: We're expecting somewhere, based on the predictions of the National Weather Service, of 6 to 9 feet of storm surge. And if that wasn't difficult enough, it's likely to come at a time when we're at high tide.

ELLIOTT: Nate has put the Central Gulf economy at a standstill. Not only are businesses closing and boarding up, but shipping and oil and gas production has halted. The U.S. Coast Guard has closed all the major ports in the region, including New Orleans, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Mobile and Pensacola. Federal regulators say oil and gas companies have evacuated workers for more than 300 off-shore production platforms and drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. People rush to get ready today as Nate gained speed and strength. In Gulf Shores, Ala., as the wind picked up, Jessica McCarty (ph) was securing her house just two blocks from the beachfront.

JESSICA MCCARTY: We're putting up the shutters right now. And we're planning on hunkering down unless otherwise we need to be evacuated.

ELLIOTT: She's got supplies in case the power goes out and games and coloring books to keep her two sons busy.

MCCARTY: We're trying to keep our spirits calm so that we don't freak out.

ELLIOTT: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is sounding the alarm.


KAY IVEY: This threat is for real in Alabama.

ELLIOTT: Ivey says Alabama will feel the brunt of Hurricane Nate. Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Mobile. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.