Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser on Thursday afternoon declared a state of emergency for the parish in advance of Tropical Storm Karen which continues to churn in the Gulf of Mexico.

The declaration allows the parish president to make decisions in response to any possible danger, including calling voluntary or mandatory evacuations or activating emergency contracts, for example.

While Plaquemines parish Recreation Department games are cancelled for the weekend, parish schools will be open Friday.

Nungesser said he and other officials were preparing for a heavy rain event.

“All pump stations are operational and we have crews on standby,” he said.

As Karen continues to gather strength, the National Hurricane Center expects it could be at, or near, hurricane strength by Friday.

However, it is expected that wind shear and other factors will reduce the storm’s strength, causing it to wind down to tropical storm strength by landfall.