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August 28th, 2012
10:19 AM ET

Louisiana shrimper Dean Blanchard plans to ride out Isaac – Ed Lavandera reports

Thousands of people in low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast have been told to leave their homes with tropical storm Isaac approaching. That includes the tiny fishing village of Grand Isle, Louisiana, which is under a mandatory evacuation order.

CNN's Ed Lavandera reports live from Grand Isle for "Early Start" this morning, talking with shrimper Dean Blanchard about his desire to ride out the storm from home. Viewers may recognize Blanchard from his many interviews in the wake of hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, when his shrimping business was nearly wiped out.

Shrimper Dean Blanchard explains in the video clip above why he plans to ride out Isaac from Grand Isle, Louisiana instead of evacuating.

Filed under: Isaac
August 28th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Fugate: FEMA is in good shape for Isaac, working with states to ensure agency is 'not holding anything up'

Having raced by Florida, tropical storm Isaac could now make landfall along the Gulf Coast as early as tonight.

Residents in Louisiana are preparing to test the new levees in effect since Hurricane Katrina hit them seven years ago. President Obama declared a state of emergency for Louisiana Monday, but the state is requesting more assistance. The latest reports from the National Hurricane Center predicts that Isaac could bring a storm surge up to 12 feet of water to New Orleans.

FEMA Director Craig Fugate speaks to CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin from Tallahassee, Florida on "Early Start" this morning, updating on the latest track from tropical storm Isaac.

"We're already in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama," Fugate says. "We have supplies coming in. The other lesson we learned, we don't want to wait until something happens and do assessments and determine what we need. So, we move supplies, particularly in this case, generator, water, food, infant supplies, and types of things that may be needed if the states do have a lot of flooding or other types of damages."

"What the president said yesterday was if you have a request for specific federal assistance, we're ready to provide that life safety issues," Fugate adds. "We're not going to hold anything up. But we'll look at the impacts and determine, does this really exceed the state's capability that require federal tax dollars to support that response and particularly if they start having damages. So, early on the request was direct federal assistance. If the financial impacts are greater than the state of Louisiana can manage, we assess that and we'll make recommendations again looking at what the governor has requested."

Filed under: Isaac
August 28th, 2012
09:28 AM ET

Alabama Emergency Management director Art Faulkner on Isaac preps, says 'safety of Alabama citizens on our coast of utmost importance'

On Wednesday, it will have been seven years since hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, killing thousands and causing billions in damage. Now, Alabama is once again bracing for a hit from tropical storm Isaac.

The state is taking precautions for the strengthening tropical storm Isaac, which officials say could become a hurricane. A hurricane warning has been issued and Director of Alabama Emergency Management Agency Art Faulkner is preparing residents for the storm.

Faulkner joins CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin by Skype on "Early Start" this morning to explain the state's prep plans.

"We've been preparing for this since last week and throughout the weekend. We've monitored the situation," Faulkner says. "The governor has made decisions well in advance of the storm to be able to put the safety of the citizens on our coast at the utmost importance and make sure that we can get them to safety in the event that the storm strengthens and impacts and braces down on the coast of Alabama."

Faulkner adds, "we take every storm serious, and we always try to prepare for any type of disaster. The state of Alabama, certainly, is no stranger to that, even though we've not faced a hurricane. Last spring, we essentially had a hurricane get the northern two-thirds of the state of Alabama. And I think that you saw the first responders and the local elected officials and others and our governor be able to be proactive, get out there, and take care of our citizens. In this situation, we're trying to do that before the storm, because we certainly don't want to face the death that we faced out of the immediate threat of tornadoes in the state last year."

Filed under: Isaac • Katrina
August 28th, 2012
06:38 AM ET

St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Pohlmann tells Soledad O'Brien: I think we'll be OK for Isaac

Tropical storm Isaac is on track to make landfall near New Orleans tonight, just shy of seven years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. People in and around New Orleans have been ordered to evacuate if they live outside of storm protection levees, with the memory of Katrina behind each storm prep.

Soledad O'Brien reports live on "Early Start" from the French Quarter in New Orleans, after talking with St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann on how the city is preparing for Isaac.

"I think we're going to be OK," Sheriff Pohlmann says. "I have confidence in our new flood protection system around St. Bernard Parish...we know we're going to have some rough weather, plenty of wind, plenty of rain, and we think we can manage."

"We learned a lot from hurricane Katrina. We're much better organized, we have inter-operability communications...we can talk to state officials, local officials. That's a big part of it. Our game plan is better. We know where the high ground is and that's where we're going to be embedded with our patrol deputies and the rest of our staff. We have facility that has a generator...I think the people, they truly understand the catastrophic effects of a major hurricane," Sheriff Pohlmann adds.

Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Isaac
August 28th, 2012
06:19 AM ET

Oil, gas shutdowns in Gulf for Isaac – Christine Romans reports on the extent of the production stoppage

As Isaac approaches the Gulf Coast of the United States, oil and gas production is being cut down sharply. How widespread are the shutdowns and how will it affect gas and oil prices?

Christine Romans explains on "Early Start" this morning the extent of temporary shutdowns for oil and gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico as Isaac approaches.

Filed under: Gas prices • Isaac • Oil
August 28th, 2012
06:13 AM ET

Mobile, Ala. prepares for Isaac – Mayor Sam Jones on planned evacuations and precautions

Mobile, Ala. Mayor Sam Jones on how his city is preparing for tropical storm Isaac.

Filed under: Isaac • Weather
August 27th, 2012
07:39 AM ET

Mayor Bob Buckhorn says 'Looking pretty good' in Tampa for tropical storm Isaac ahead of Republican National Convention

As tropical storm Isaac makes its way towards the southern coast of the US, wind and rain from the storm started hitting Tampa, Fla. last night.

With many of preps and changes done early, it appears the city will be spared in time for the Republican National Convention. Still, officials are cautiously optimistic that the worst may be past and the convention will proceed.

This morning on "Early Start," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn talks with John Bermn on the latest in tropical storm Isaac and the start of the Republican National Convention.

Filed under: Isaac
August 27th, 2012
07:13 AM ET

Florida concerns for Isaac moves from Keys to Panhandle

Florida Emergency Management director Bryan Koon says tropical storm Isaac could cause damage to Fla. panhandle.

Filed under: Isaac • Weather
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