September 4, 2011 in Nation/World

Lee drifts just off Louisiana coast

Tropical storm hurting tourism
Mary Foster Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Doug Depp, aka King Neptune, waves to people being evacuated by tractor from the West End Park area of New Orleans as rains from Tropical Storm Lee flooded the Lake Marina Roadway on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

Katia weakens

Katia has weakened to a tropical storm far out at sea, but it could regain hurricane strength as it chugs westward. Late Saturday, Katia had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. It was located about 400 miles east-northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands.

JEAN LAFITTE, La. – Bands of heavy rain and strong wind gusts from Tropical Storm Lee knocked out power to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi on Saturday and prompted evacuations in bayou towns like Jean Lafitte, where water was lapping at the front doors of some homes.

The sluggish storm stalled just offshore for several hours before meandering to the north and west in the evening. Its center was expected to move onshore overnight

The storm threatened to dump more than a foot of rain across the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast in coming days. No injuries were reported, but there were scattered instances of water entering low-lying homes and businesses in Louisiana.

To the east, coffers were suffering at many coastal businesses that depend on a strong Labor Day weekend. Alabama beaches that would normally be packed were largely empty, and rough seas closed the Port of Mobile. Mississippi’s coastal casinos, however, were open and reporting brisk business.

In Jean Laffite, water was a foot deep under Eva Alexie’s house, which is raised about eight feet off the flat ground.

“I should be used to this,” said Alexie, a 76-year-old storm veteran who lost a home to Hurricane Ike in 2008. “It happens pretty often. I just thank God it won’t be getting in my house this time.”

The center of the slow-moving storm was about 65 miles south-southwest of Lafayette, La., on Saturday evening, spinning intermittent bands of stormy weather, alternating with light rain and occasional sunshine.

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