Hurricane Sally intensified to a Category 2 storm on Monday evening, said forecasters from the National Hurricane Center, as more local authorities across the Gulf Coast ordered people to evacuate.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards have all declared emergencies in their respective states.
President Donald Trump has approved disaster declarations for Louisiana and Mississippi.
A news release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said that the declaration authorizes the agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide emergency assistance to hurricane-impacted areas.
As of Monday, Sally is continuing to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico while on a forecast track that will most likely hit just east of southeastern Louisiana, making landfall near the Mississippi-Alabama border.
The hurricane currently has 100-mph winds and heavy storm surge. Some forecasters have said the storm could produce upwards of 20 inches of rain in some areas.
Dauphin Island Mayor told AP on Monday that several cars have been lost to the quickly rising waters due to storm surge.
“We weren’t able to move the vehicles, they were already stuck in the sand,” he said, reported AP.
A storm surge warning is in effect for Port Fourchon, Louisiana, to the Okaloosa-Walton County line, Florida---as well as Mobile Bay, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Lake Borgne. A hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida.
Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas, including metropolitan New Orleans, are also under a hurricane warning.