Hurricane Nate makes landfall at mouth of Mississippi River

Tree trimming trucks head into Biloxi which is under a hurricane warning as Hurricane Nate approaches the northern Mississippi Gulf Coast on Sataurday in Biloxi, Mississippi. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2017
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Hurricane Nate makes landfall at mouth of Mississippi River

NEW ORLEANS: Hurricane Nate came ashore a sparsely populated area at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Saturday and pelted the central Gulf Coast with wind and rain as the fast-moving storm headed toward the Mississippi coast, where it was expected to make another landfall and threatened to inundate homes and businesses.
Nate was expected to pass to the east of New Orleans, sparing the city its most ferocious winds and storm surge. And its quick speed lessened the likelihood of prolonged rain that would tax the city’s weakened drainage pump system. Still, the city famous for all-night partying was placed under a curfew, effective at 7 p.m., and the streets were not nearly as crowded as they typically are on a Saturday night.
Cities along the Mississippi coast such as Gulfport and Biloxi were on high alert. Some beachfront hotels and casinos were evacuated. Rain began falling on the region Saturday and forecasters called for 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) with as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) in some isolated places.
Nate weakened slightly and was a Category 1 storm with maximum winds of 85 mph (137 kph) when it made landfall in a sparsely populated area of Plaquemines (PLAK’-uh-minz) Parish. Forecasters had said it was possible that it could strengthen to a Category 2, but that seemed less likely as the night wore on.
Storm surge threatened low-lying communities in southeast Louisiana, eastward to the Alabama fishing village of Bayou la Batre.
“If it floods again, this will be it,” said Larry Bertron as said as he and his wife prepared to leave their home in the Braithwaite community of vulnerable Plaquemines Parish. The hurricane veterans lost one home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and left the home they rebuilt after Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
Governors in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama declared states of emergency. The three states have been mostly spared during this hectic hurricane season.
“This is the worst hurricane that has impacted Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina,” Mississippi Emergency Management Director Lee Smithson said Saturday. “Everyone needs to understand that, that this is a significantly dangerous situation.”
Officials rescued five people from two sailboats in choppy waters before the storm. One 41-foot sailboat lost its engine in Lake Pontchartrain and two sailors were saved. Another boat hit rocks in the Mississippi Sound and three people had to be plucked from the water.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to make final preparations quickly and stressed that Nate will bring the possibility of storm surge reaching up to 11 feet in some coastal areas.
“It’s going to hit and move through our area at a relatively fast rate, limiting the amount of time it’s going to drop rain,” Edwards said. “But this is a very dangerous storm nonetheless.”
Streets in low-lying areas of Louisiana were already flooded. Places outside of levee protections were under mandatory evacuation orders and shelters opened there.
Some people worried about New Orleans’ pumping system, which had problems during a heavy thunderstorm on Aug. 5. The deluge exposed system weaknesses — including the failure of some pumps and power-generating turbines — and caused homes and businesses to flood. Repairs have been made but the system remained below maximum pumping capacity.
On Alabama’s Dauphin Island, water washed over the road Saturday on the island’s low-lying west end, said Mayor Jeff Collier. The storm was projected to bring storm surges from seven to 11 feet near the Alabama-Mississippi state line. Some of the biggest impacts could be at the top of funnel-shaped Mobile Bay.
The window for preparing “is quickly closing,” Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents of the Panhandle to prepare for Nate’s impact.
“Hurricane Nate is expected to bring life-threatening storm surges, strong winds and tornados that could reach across the Panhandle,” Scott said. The evacuations affect roughly 100,000 residents in the western Panhandle.
The Pensacola International Airport announced it will close at 6 p.m. Saturday and remain closed on Sunday. However, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was open Saturday.
At 8 p.m. EDT Saturday, Nate was about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm is expected to quickly weaken as it cuts a path through the Southeast on its way to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, which could see impacts from Nate early next week.
Nate killed at least 21 people after strafing Central America.
Waterside sections of New Orleans, outside the city’s levee system, were under an evacuation order. About 2,000 people were affected. But not everyone was complying.
Gabriel Black stayed behind because an 81-year-old neighbor refused to leave.
“I know it sounds insane, but he has bad legs and he doesn’t have anybody who can get to him,” Black said.
Ahead of Saturday night’s curfew, some bars were closed in the French Quarter but music blasted from others.
“We’re down here from Philly and we’re not going to just stay in our hotel room,” said Kelly Howell, who was drinking with friends at The Bourbon Street Drinkery.
 


New Philippine military chief vows to drive Daesh out

Updated 12 min 2 sec ago
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New Philippine military chief vows to drive Daesh out

  • New military chief seeks cooperation of mainstream Muslim groups in fighting violent extremists
  • For the first time, leaders of the two major Muslim rebel groups attended the Philippine military's change of command ceremony

MANILA: The new armed forces chief in the Philippines took up his post with a pledge to drive Daesh from the Philippines while also extending an olive branch to Filipino militants and insurgents.
Army Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez became the country’s 50th military chief on Wednesday, replacing the retiring Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero. 
President Rodrigo Duterte led the change of command ceremony at Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
In a speech at the ceremony, Galvez called on all enemies of the state to choose peace. “It is time for rebuilding and reconciliation among Filipinos,” he said.
“It is the best time to walk the path of peace. I now extend to our misguided brothers and sisters a chance to end all conflicts,” he added.
He noted that that for decades, Filipinos have fought fellow Filipinos. Communist rebels, Galvez said, have brought misery and enmity among Filipinos, while Abu Sayyaf and other local groups have terrorized communities. He added though that many members of these insurgent and militant groups had already abandoned their illegal activities and begun rebuilding their lives.
“Hundreds of our comrades have already stocked arms and abandoned your hopeless cause. They have seen by themselves that our government is a just and fair government. Your armed forces... invite you to abandon your pointless struggle and return home to your families and your community,” said Galvez.
Galvez pointed out that violent extremism remains a threat as shown by the destructive fighting in Marawi City, which was attacked by members of the Daesh-inspired Maute Group in May last year. 
The Marawi crisis lasted almost five months.
“Daesh and the battle of Marawi have just very recently shown us how truly destructive violent extremism can be. We have won many battles but we have yet to win the war,” he said.
“Violent extremists and their corrupted ideology remain a threat. Too much (blood) has been spilled. Too many lives have been lost to terror and hate,” he added.
He called on all peace-loving Filipinos, including “our Muslim brothers and sisters,” to join the AFP in the fight against all forms of violent extremism. 
“We will pursue with even more vigor our campaign to end insurgency and terrorism. And with your indispensable help, we will ultimately win,” he said,
“Together, we shall render the cause of insurgency irrelevant for it can only thrive where discord prevails. Together we shall defeat the Abu Sayyaf and all other terrorist group for terrorism only works when people are divided and afraid. Together we shall drive Daesh and other violent extremists from our shores for extremism dies in the light of a people united and strong,” he added.
For the first time, leaders of the two major Muslim revolutionary groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), attended the change of command ceremony.
Galvez expressed his full support to the peace process with the armed groups.
“Even though we soldiers are warriors, we shall always prepare the path of peace. Hence we shall support all peace initiatives of the government,” he said.
“We shall more vigorously work hand in hand with government agencies, non-government organizations and other stakeholders to address the underlying cause of conflict. We shall keep our door open with all peaceful possibilities.
“We look forward to the final peaceful political resolution of conflict in Mindanao,” Galvez continued, as he vowed to further strengthen existing peace mechanisms and revitalize the peace and development offices of AFP unified command levels.