GULF SHORES, Ala. —Squalls ahead of a rare late-season tropical storm blew in heavy rain late Monday to parts of the Gulf Coast where residents hunkered down at home and in shelters anticipating high winds and flooding.
Ida had slowed as it approached the coast. It was south-southwest of Mobile and expected to make land early today before turning east. Tropical storm warnings were out across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency.
In Gulf Shores along the coast, some streets were flooded and the city was under a 10 p.m. curfew, and Allen Hastings, general manager of the Original Oyster House, was closing his restaurant even earlier. During Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the restaurant flooded despite being elevated about 6 feet.
But Hastings, like many along the Gulf Coast, didn't anticipate Ida to be as bad, and knew it has been a quiet Atlantic tropical season until now.
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"We're not complaining," he said as the restaurant's awnings whipped in the wind. "I don't think it's going to be bad, but we just have to see what tomorrow brings."
Near New Orleans, a 70-year-old man was feared drowned Monday when trying to help two fishermen whose boat had broken down in the Mississippi River, said Maj. John Marie, a Plaquemines Parish sheriff's spokesman. A wave knocked him into the water.
Ida had been the third hurricane of this year's Atlantic season, which ends Dec. 1, but weakened with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph. Its speed had slowed to 13 mph and was moving north.
The storm was expected to weaken further before making landfall.Associated Press writers Melissa Nelson and Bill Kaczor in Pensacola, Suzette Laboy in Miami, Becky Bohrer in New Orleans, Dorie Turner in Atlanta, Jay Reeves in Robertsdale, Ala., Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala., Greg Bluestein in Dauphin Island, Ala., and Mike Kunzelman in Biloxi, Miss. contributed to this report.