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U.S. southern states on heightened alert for Tropical Storm Lee

(Xinhua)

13:37, September 03, 2011

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. southern state of Louisiana and the coastal regions of its neighboring state Mississippi on Friday declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Lee was drifting north from the Gulf of Mexico with high wind and heavy rains.

The center of the Lee was expected to make landfall on the coast of Louisiana this weekend. It was already causing heavy rain on much of southeastern and southcentral Louisiana on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center based in Miami, Florida.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared emergency for the state on Friday afternoon, while LaFourche Parish and the city of Grand Isle issued voluntary orders of evacuation, the U.S. TV news network CNN reported.

"This is going to be a slow-moving storm. It's going to bring a lot of rain," Jindal said. It was expected that the storm will bring heavy rains and possible flash flooding in the coastal region of Louisiana.

Jindal held an emergency meeting of several state agencies earlier Friday to get an update on Tropical Storm Lee and discuss measures prepare for the storm's arrival.

"We know from experience that it's best to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and since we're at the height of the hurricane season, now is a good time for Louisianians to make sure they have a gameplan to protect themselves and their families if a major storm approaches our coast," he said.

At the same time, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour issued the order to declare the state of emergency for seven coastal counties, including George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Marion, Pearl River and Stone, urging local residents to be prepared for "tremendous flooding."

Barbour stressed that although the storm is not yet ranked as a hurricane, its impact should not be underestimated. "Make preparations now to protect your family and your property," he said in a statement.

A week earlier, Hurricane Irene slammed the U.S. East Coast with high wind, torrential rains, tidal waves and flooding, causing massive destruction to roads and houses while leaving 7 millions of households without power.

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