GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A child died when a tree fell onto a mobile
home in Florida late Tuesday as Tropical Storm Gordon made landfall just
west of the Alabama-Mississippi border.
The Escambia County
Sheriff's office posted on its Facebook page that deputies responded to a
call of the fallen tree in Pensacola and discovered the deceased child,
whose name and age was not released. There were no other injuries.
National Hurricane center said Gordon struck about 10 p.m. and the
storm is forecast to quickly weaken as it moves inland across
Mississippi, Louisiana and into Arkansas through Thursday. It did not
reach hurricane status.
strengthened some in the final hours as it neared the central Gulf
Coast, clocking top sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph). The National
Hurricane Center said Gordon's tight core was about 30 miles (30
kilometers) southeast of Biloxi, Mississippi, or about 35 miles (55
kilometers) south of Mobile, Alabama, where heavy rains and winds picked
up shortly before nightfall.
More than 27,000 customers are
without power Tuesday night as Tropical Storm Gordon began pushing
ashore. Those outages are mostly in coastal Alabama and include the
western tip of the Florida Panhandle around Pensacola, with a few
hundred in southeastern Mississippi. The number of outages has been
rising rapidly after dark Tuesday night as Tropical Storm Gordon's wind
and rain began to take a toll on the Gulf Coast's power grid.
International Airport has reported more than 4 inches of rain, the
heaviest total reported so far along the Gulf Coast.
turned dark gray as storms overshadowed Mobile, a port city. Metal
chairs were lashed together atop tables outside a restaurant in what's
normally a busy entertainment district, and a street musician played to
an empty sidewalk just before the rain began. Conditions were expected
to deteriorate westward to New Orleans as the stormed closed in on the
coast, possibly becoming the second hurricane to hit the region in less
than a year.
Families along the coast filled sandbags, took patio
furniture inside and stocked up on batteries and bottled water ahead of
John and Robin Berry, vacationing on Dauphin Island,
Alabama, went to the beach to see the roaring surf before the rain
began. Accompanied by their dog Bentley, the couple had to evacuate the
beachfront home they had rented for the week because of Gordon, but they
didn't go very far.
"There are no dunes and there's no
protection, so the realty company we rented from moved us across the
street and down so that we would be safe," said Robin Berry.
from Nashville, Tennessee, the couple planned to stay on the island
despite the storm. Katrina cut the narrow island in half more than a
decade ago, but John Berry wasn't very worried about Gordon.
"It's awesome. It's so beautiful," he said of the pounding waves.
20 miles away on the mainland, dozens of brightly colored shrimp boats
were tied up to docks in Bayou La Batre, a seafood town that processes
oysters, shrimp and crabs from across the Gulf of Mexico.
staff at The Hotel Whiskey in Pass Christian, Mississippi — only about a
block from the Gulf of Mexico — were among those carrying out pre-storm
preparation rituals. The hotel restaurant planned to stay open Tuesday
evening as usual, fortified by sandbags to keep out torrential rains,
the manager said.
Gulfport was among communities providing sand
and bags to residents, and Kenny Macdonald filled them for himself and
older residents. MacDonald said that while such preparations become all
too routine, one must remain wary.
"You don't know what the intensity of the storm is going to be. You don't want to take it lightly, of course," MacDonald said.
hurricane warning was in effect for the entire Mississippi and Alabama
coasts with the possibility Gordon would become a Category 1 storm. The
National Hurricane Center predicted a "life-threatening" storm surge of 3
to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 meters) along parts of the central Gulf Coast.
also was a risk. As much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain could
fall in some parts of the Gulf states through late Thursday as the
tropical weather moves inland toward Arkansas.
Forecasters said it
was possible Gordon's winds might meet the 74 mph (120 kph) threshold
to be a hurricane before making landfall later Tuesday. The last
hurricane to strike the U.S. was Nate last October, coming ashore in
Biloxi with 75 mph (120 kph) winds.
Governors in Alabama,
Mississippi and Louisiana all declared states of emergency to better
mobilize state resources and National Guard troops for the storm.
Mississippi shut down a dozen Gulf Coast casinos. Workers on at least 54
oil and gas production platforms were evacuated.
Gordon became a tropical storm Monday near the Florida Keys.
Mayors of barrier islands in the storm's path warned that their communities might get cut off from the mainland.
you get the higher waves, water starts splashing across. Sometimes it
starts pushing not only water across but debris, logs and things of that
nature, which makes it very treacherous to get across," said Jeff
Collier, mayor of Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Gordon was poised for
only a glancing blow to New Orleans, where Mayor LaToya Cantrell said
the city has "the pumps and the power" needed to protect residents.
Authorities issued a voluntary evacuation order for areas outside the city's levee protection system.
was not the only storm being watched by forecasters. Hurricane Florence
was some 2,400 miles (3,900 kilometers) away from the U.S., and another
potential storm was likely to form not far off the coast of Africa and
The National Hurricane Center said it is way too early to know if either of those storms will have any impact on land.
"It's the peak of hurricane season. Now is the time to get your plans all set," Hurricane Director Ken Graham said.
reported from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Associated Press writers Jeff
Martin and Ben Nadler in Atlanta; Jay Reeves in Dauphin Island,
Alabama; Emily Wagster Pettus and Jeff Amy in Jackson, Mississippi; Kim
Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Rebecca Santana in New Orleans; Melinda
Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia,
South Carolina, contributed to this report.