Updated: 28/08/12 : 06:57:43Printable Version
Tropical storm Isaac has churned up the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and is predicted to strengthen into a dangerous hurricane before hitting the US mainland later.
The US Gulf Coast is braced for the storm which left at least 20 people dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and swept across the Florida Keys.
People along a 300 miles stretch of coast have been warned to take precautions, with some communities urged to evacuate and head for shelter.
Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency amid the threat of flooding, which forecasters said could result in flood waters of between six and 12 feet in areas.
US President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Louisiana, authorising federal aid for the state ahead of the approaching storm.
He has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts with state and local officials along the Gulf Coast.
The storm is expected to make landfall somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and New Orleans - ahead of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the area seven-years-ago.
Billions of dollars have been spent shoring up defences which gave way in 2005.
Carpenter John Corll said: "I think the state and local governments are much better prepared for the storm surge and emergencies."
Officials are warning that hundreds of miles of coastline are at risk.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said: "This is not a New Orleans storm, this is a Gulf Coast storm. Some of the heaviest impact may be in Alabama and Mississippi."