U.S. Gulf Coast braces for ‘life-threatening’ disaster

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CNN) – Widespread flooding, deadly storm surge, destructive winds with the possibility of spawning tornadoes – these threats have sparked an emergency along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

And officials aren’t mincing words, sending out warnings that if residents want to leave, now is the time.

Rising flood waters have taken over streets, and storm surge has already claimed at least one car.

“We’re up about three foot of water over the road which probably means the water had to come up in the ballpark of 7 or 8 feet overnight,” said Col. Terry Daigre of Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“This is the first time in the history of the levee district that we’ve had to close every single gate,” John Monzon of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority.

Louisiana’s governor has ordered all flood gates shut closed in an attempt to protect the City of New Orleans from complete devastation.

“All of these low-lying roads, there is going to be water on them and so we encourage people to stay off the roads and stay safely in their homes,” said Commander Heather Mattern of the U.S. Coast Guard. “Flooding and being able to get access to these people is going to be difficult.”

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