Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday that, while the path of Hurricane Sally has moved eastward, southeast Louisiana remains under the threat of heavy rain, flooding and the unknowns on what any storm is going to do.

"Parts of Louisiana remain in the cone," Edwards told reporters. "We need to be very careful about that."

The governor said the New Orleans metropolitan area, including St. Tammany and St. Bernard parishes, are areas of particular concern from a dangerously slow-moving, Category 2 hurricane.

"Everyone needs to continue to pay very close attention," Edwards said.  "I don’t want people to be confused about this."

He said expected slow-moving bands of rain mean flooding is a major concern, with rain total forecasts of 8-16 inches in some areas.

Edwards said one-third of hurricanes arrive east or west of the predicted path, and that the effects of a heavy storm can easily be felt outside the cone.

However, there are signs that the latest danger zone shrunk between Sunday and Monday.

Edwards announced Monday state offices would be closed in a dozen parishes Tuesday because of Hurricane Sally, down from 17 announced Sunday for Monday.

The latest list of closures includes Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington.

The storm's eye was due south of Mobile when the governor spoke to reporters.

Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes, 100 miles west of the eye, were already experiencing strong winds.

A hurricane watch remains in effect from Alabama's state line with Florida west along the Mississippi Gulf Coast through Louisiana to Terrebonne Parish and includes New Orleans, Hammond, Bogalusa, Thibodaux and Houma. Tropical Storm-force winds are possible in Baton Rouge.

Hurricane Sally is expected to skirt the southeast Louisiana coast, possibly making landfall as a Category 2 storm in Plaquemines Parish, then moving slowly with 100 mile-per-hour winds all day Tuesday, then come ashore somewhere near the Pearl River that separates Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Up to two feet of rain is expected to drop on parts of some southeastern parishes and Mississippi's Gulf Coast, and up to 15 inches in New Orleans.  

In addition to storm surge along the coast, three-to-five feet of additional water is expected in Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas, which will slow water from draining out of rivers and bayous.

Edwards said President Donald Trump signed his emergency request Monday morning, which will make it easier for parishes and the state to land federal assistance.

He said FEMA is bringing in additional resources to the state for Hurricane Sally rather than shifting supplies sent to southwest Louisiana for Hurricane Laura, which slammed into Cameron Parish on Aug. 27.

The state has put together 141 boat crews. Search and rescue crews are coming in from other states.

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has 70 agents with boats ready to assist.

About 2,500 utility line workers are standing by, with up to 3,000 more coming from other states.

The Louisiana National Guard has about 4,800 men and women in the field, many of whom have been helping with recovery efforts after Hurricane Laura.

State officials are also readying generators, pumps, sandbags and high-water vehicles in southeast Louisiana ahead of the storm.

State preparations for Hurricane Sally are complicated by the cleanup after Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm that packed winds of up to 150 mph.

Hurricane Laura resulted in 28 fatalities.

Nearly 13,000 evacuees of Hurricane Laura are in hotels — including about 12,000 in New Orleans — and another 5,300 are in hotels in Texas.

About 82,000 power outages remained Sunday, mostly in the Lake Charles area.

State offices in three southwest Louisiana parishes remain closed: Calcasieu, Cameron and Beauregard.

The Red Cross has pre-positioned food and water at the New Orleans hotels in case the power goes out. Edwards said he has no plans to move those evacuees, mostly because of the lack of hotel space elsewhere.

"I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for those from southwest Louisiana," he said Sunday.


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