HOUMA, La. (AP) -- Schools were closed, hospitals were asked to postpone some surgeries and coastal residents were urged to evacuate as Tropical Storm Isidore swirled toward Louisiana and Mississippi on Wednesday.
Wind and rain from the fringe of the storm slapped at both states' coasts, and Isidore was expected to hit with hurricane force as early as Wednesday night.
In Terrebonne Parish, in the middle of Isidore's anticipated path, officials opened an emergency shelter and expected around 2,000 people to show up.
"Once it gets here, we don't want it to stay and visit us," Parish President Bobby Bergeron said. "This hurricane is not next door. It is on our back door."
At 8 a.m. EDT, Isidore was about 305 miles south of New Orleans and heading north at about 13 mph. Its sustained winds rose to 60 mph but were not expected to strengthen Wednesday.
Isidore swept over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Monday, tearing off roofs, cutting communications and leaving at least two people dead. By Tuesday morning, it was back over open water in the Gulf of Mexico. Its sustained winds fell well below hurricane strength of 74 mph as the storm moved over land but then rose again to 60 mph in the Gulf.
On Wednesday, a hurricane watch stretched some 300 miles from Cameron, in southwestern Louisiana, to Pascagoula, Miss., and a tropical storm warning encompassed the wider area from High Island, Texas, to Destin, Fla.
The National Weather Service said the system likely would turn northeast once it hit land, with Isadore's center over northwestern Alabama by Friday.
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