With Hurricane Isaac’s invasion of the Gulf Coast at the halfway point Wednesday afternoon, local and national officials said it was on track to produce the degree of rain and wind that was expected.
Stephanie Moffett, spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region VI, which is based in Denton and covers Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, said Wednesday that more than 100 workers from the office are on the ground in or near affected areas.
Once the storm moves through, they will be able to assess the damage, she said.
“We have teams on standby to work with our state and local counterparts,” she said. “It will take a little while, so it’s really too soon to talk about a time frame.”
FEMA responds at the request of a state and assesses the amount of damage and aid the state might need. It was too soon to make any kind of assessment, Moffett said.
National Hurricane Center Director Rick Nabb said in a telephone news conference that 10 inches of rain had fallen by Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve had 12-foot surges, as expected, and 10 inches of rain,” Nabb said. “Twenty inches is quite possible.”
There are two types of flooding associated with the hurricane, he said — flash flooding and river flooding. He expected both.
“This is a Category 1 storm,” he said. “But the category doesn’t capture all the hazards. It just reflects the wind speed. It doesn’t take into account the amount of rainfall.”
National Red Cross Senior Vice President Charlie Shimanski said the Red Cross needs donations.
“This is a slow-moving hurricane that will require a prolonged response,” Shimanski said.
The Red Cross has 2,700 workers deployed either in the field or in place that will allow quick response to affected areas, he said.
On Tuesday night, 5,000 people were counted in Red Cross emergency shelters, and more were expected Wednesday night.
The Red Cross is prepared with emergency food, cots, clothing and shelter, and more shelters will be opened if needed, he said.
Isaac already had caused gasoline prices to rise. Texans are paying 9 cents more per gallon this week than last, AAA Texas announced Wednesday, as the average price of regular unleaded climbed to $3.64.
AAA reported that several refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi closed before Isaac made landfall. The storm also disrupted offshore crude production in that region causing the higher prices. Analysts say the price spike will likely be short lived if there is no long lasting damage to refineries in the region.
Drivers are paying about $51 to fill up a 14-gallon gas tank, AAA reported. Still, the association said the average price in Texas is about 16 cents less than the national average, which sits at $3.80.
Doug Shupe, a AAA spokesman for Texas and New Mexico, said the storm and rising gas prices would not inhibit travel in most of the country, except in areas in the path of the storm.
“[Isaac] will impact travel plans for people in Louisiana or New Orleans,” Shupe said. “We have found that tropical storms do not normally impact travel plans nationally. Still our thoughts and prayers will be with our neighbors to the east. Many of us have friends and family there.”
Statewide, drivers in Texarkana were paying the most on average at $3.70, and motorists in El Paso are paying the least at $3.41, AAA Texas reported. As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, the lowest price for regular gas in Denton was $3.59 at the Murphy USA station at Loop 288 and Brinker Road.
The highest was $3.89 at the Exxon at Avenue D and North Texas Blvd., according to the user-reported website FortWorthGasPrices.com.
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