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As Hurricane Nate heads toward the Gulf Coast, communities have already started to prepare for the storm's potential impacts.
A state of emergency has been declared by local officials in Alabama and parts of Florida and Louisiana in anticipation of Nate.
New Orleans officials met Thursday morning with the Sewerage & Water Board (S&WB) to discuss preparations for Nate and the condition of the city's weakened drainage system, according to NOLA.com.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared a state of emergency for the city Thursday afternoon.
Landrieu tweeted that the city had 14 trucks and crews out cleaning catch basins in preparation for the storm.
"The S&WB and contractors are working 24/7 to repair all power and pumps. Today, 108 of 120 pumps are working, and we’re at 92 percent capacity," Landrieu said.
"There is no need to panic. Be ready and prepare. Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property," he added.
Nate is forecast to retain hurricane status as it reaches the Gulf Coast this weekend. It has already been blamed for at least 22 deaths in Central America.
Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents of St. Bernard Parish, Venetian Isles, Lake Catherine and Irish Bayou. A mandatory curfew will also begin in New Orleans at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday and end on Sunday morning.
Parish President Guy McInnis told NOLA.com that he is confident the drainage system can handle a typical flooding event.
Twenty-six of the parish's 28 drainage pumps were operational. Two pumps are being replaced and have been out of service all hurricane season.
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On Thursday, parish emergency officials focused on bringing in St. Bernard's commercial fishing fleet through its locks in Violet and Caernarvon. Crews have begun to block roads in the eastern part of the parish, McInnis told NOLA.com.
St. Bernard's crisis action team and emergency responders met to discuss when to open the emergency operations center.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is working with Mayor Landrieu, as well as preparing the state for the storm.
Edwards issued a state of emergency for Louisiana on Friday ahead of Nate’s potential impacts over the weekend.
“We are taking the potential impacts of Nate seriously and mobilizing all of the state’s emergency preparedness and response mechanisms for a full readiness should this storm severely impact our state,” Edwards said.
About 1,300 National Guard troops are currently being mobilized, Edwards said.
Officials of the town on Grand Isle, an inhabited barrier island south of New Orleans, called a voluntary evacuation, according to the Associated Press.
"State and local leaders are ready to respond if needed, but our people need to stay weather-aware and heed any directions given by local officials," Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott also led a meeting with emergency management officials to discuss Nate's potential impacts on the state.
Following the meeting, Scott declared a state of emergency for 29 counties within Florida.
“Nate is headed north toward our state and Florida must be prepared. I have continued to be briefed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Nate and while current forecast models have the storm’s center west of Florida, we must be vigilant and get prepared," Scott said in the news release.
The Florida National Guard has 7,000 guard members available for deployment if needed.
Scott said Floridians should always be ready with a plan and a disaster preparedness kit.
In Mississippi, emergency management officials met with Gov. Phil Bryant Thursday to discuss the latest on Nate.
"We are praying for the best and preparing for the worst," Bryant said.
"The Mississippi National Guard, Mississippi Department of Public Safety, MDOT, U.S. Coast Guard and many other agencies are all ready in the event they are needed," he said.
The city of Biloxi, Mississippi, has already declared a local emergency.
“We have to make preparations and take the necessary steps to protect our citizens and visitors,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said.
Oil and gas companies have also started to prepare their facilities for Nate.
BP has begun securing offshore facilities and evacuating non-essential personnel from the Thunder Horse and Na Kika platforms and the West Vela drilling rig in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, according to a BP news update.
"BP is closely monitoring Nate to ensure the safety of our personnel and operations in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico," the update read.
Exxon Mobil Corp said it is evacuating all staff from its Lena platform in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Nate, Reuters reported.
Chevron said it is preparing to shut its Petronius and Blind Faith facilities ahead of the storm. It planned to evacuate all personnel from the two platforms on Thursday morning, according to Reuters.
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