Good evening. Tonight from the hall of the republican national convention, the events here postponed one y because the giant storm isaac is barreling toward the gulf coast. And it is really seven... See More
Good evening. Tonight from the hall of the republican national convention, the events here postponed one y because the giant storm isaac is barreling toward the gulf coast. And it is really seven years to the day since katrina devastated new orleans. At this moment, the storm is gaining strength on track to become a category 2 hurricane. It's almost the size of texas. It's already sideswiped the florida keys, and at this hour, is moving through the gulf. Toward the gulf coast. A state of emergency in four states, more than 5,000 national guard troops mobilized. And our extreme weather team is spanned out across the storm zone. And abc's weather editor sam champion leads us off in new orleans right now. Sam? Good evening, diane. And that's lake pontchartrain behind me. The water is up and so are the white caps and it's a real problem with iex. The new head line from the national weather center is the long anticipated intensification of isaac has started. Reporter: After pounding the caribbean and lashing the keys, isaac's now pointed towards the northern gulf coast. Gaining strength and size in the warm waters of the gulf of mexico, the storm could be a category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles an hour. But many are not waiting. Evacuations are already under way along the gulf coast. All we can do is that and what happens happens. Reporter: Traffic backed up for miles in louisiana were ordered to evacuate. Today is the day for those folks waiting in those areas to get out of harm's way. Reporter: Still, some are choosing to stay put. We're here to just pick up h light batsries and water. Reporter: They're stacking up and battening down. I've got water up here. I've got food at home. I think I'm set. We'll just hunker down and do the west we can. Reporter: Crew the caribbean, in haiti, 19 deaths have been blamed on the storm. Flooding and mud slides the big danger. Overnight, isaac dumped 14 inches of rain in south florida and the keys causing serious flooding. Abc's matt gutman rode out the storm in key west. Even though the storm passed 24 hours ago, hundredsch miles away, the winds are still fierce, gives you a sense of how raw this storm is. And still dumping a tremendous amount of debris on the island. Reporter: Is it a massive storm. 350 miles wide. It will bring heavy rain, hig winds and a 6 to 12-foot storm surge through a wide part of the gulf coast and that could mean serious flooding. A big concern tonight. And let's look at that all-important track tonight as we follow what is isaac all the way up towards that northern gulf coast, it sure does. And we don't want to follow just the center of this. We want to follow the cone. And the cone goes all the way from louisiana over towards biloxi. There's that one model, all of these in the eye of the hurricane that shoot farther out border with louisiana so we're not done picking the exact location that's why everybody on the gulf should be watching. And it's not just the strike point that's going to have a problem. All states along the gulf coast that are going to get the rain are going to have a problem. It's going to run into a front once it causes land and stall. That means up to 20 inches of rain falling in a place with strong winds that just can't handle that much water. Diane. Prepare for flooding. Thank you so much, sam. But as you said, it is a direct hit, a possible direct hit on new orleans, bracing with the memory of katrina still so fresh. And abc's meteorologist ginger zee, a veteran storm chaser is in the city tonight and standing on one of those levees. Ginger. Reporter: Diane, during hurricane katrina, lake pontchartrain has so much storm surge -- come with me -- that it pushed up water into these neighborhoods. Now the levees are taller, isaac is a different storm and new orleans is a very different city. We're dealing with tropical storm isaac. Strong winds, rain and storm surge. Reporter: In new orleans tonight, they're not take anything chances. We're going to leave later today. Reporter: Me moornds of that 2005 disaster are everywhere and anxiety is high. Will we evacuate? Will we not evacuate? Will it be a level 1 or 3 or better. Reporter: Linda anderson lost her home in katrina. We had nine foot of water in our home. Reporter: She moved back just a few months ago. We hope the corps of engineers have done their job. Reporter: The corps said we. Are you ready? We feel confident about the system. It's almost not comparable to what was in place when hurricane katrina hit. And this storm, of course is no katrina, and we feel comfortable with the system. Reporter: After katrina swamped the levees and swamped the city, almost every levee was reinforced or rebuilt entirely. That's 133 miles of work over the last seven years. An example, the 17th street canal, during katrina, it breached, flooding the entire neighborhood of lakeview. Now, a temporary series pumps 11 gates, separate the storm surge that comes across lake pontchartrain from that canal and the city of new orleans. The cities say the levees are ready and the people here say they're ready, too. Within the last hour, "road closed" signs going up over the most vulnerable spots. Also we were hearing loud speakers telling people the floodgates close in a half hour. Most flights coming into new orleans canceled, diane. Ginger, thank you. An we will be there day and night watching this storm.
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