Ida Makes Landfall in Alabama With Heavy Rain

Tropical Storm Ida came ashore near Mobile Bay in southern Alabama early Tuesday with top sustained winds around 45 mph.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ida's center first touched land on Dauphin Island and was headed for the Alabama mainland later Tuesday morning.

Ida was moving northeast about 9 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were out across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency.

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In Gulf Shores along the coast, some streets were flooded and the city was under a 10 p.m. curfew Monday night.

A low-pressure system that Hurricane Ida may have played a role in attracting earlier triggered flooding and landslides in El Salvador that killed at least 130 people. Near New Orleans, a 70-year-old man was feared drowned Monday when trying to help two fishermen whose boat had broken down in the Mississippi River, said Maj. John Marie, a Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's spokesman. A wave knocked him into the water.

Ida had been the third hurricane of this year's Atlantic season, which ends Dec. 1, but was the only one to threaten the U.S.

Rain will move well inland before the further-weakened storm comes ashore, said U.S. National Hurricane Center hurricane specialist Robbie Berg. Rainfall could be up to 8 inches in some areas, with most of the coast getting between 3 and 6 inches.

Still, few people evacuated or sought refuge along Alabama's coast. Officials said fewer than 70 people were in shelters that opened in Mobile and Baldwin counties, with a total population of 565,000.

The streets were quiet late Monday in downtown Mobile, about 40 miles northwest of Gulf Shores, with many stores and restaurants closing early. Stiff winds with gusts up to 50 mph and sheets of rain made driving hazardous, and many residents opted to stay off the roads, although few said they were leaving town.

Doris Moorman, who was managing the Red Cross shelter in Pascagoula, Mississippi, said she staffed a similar shelter last year during Hurricane Gustav that housed more than 500 people. She said she's concerned residents weren't taking the threat seriously, perhaps letting their Gustav experience lull them into a false sense of security.

"That doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be fine this time," she said.

Forecasters predicted Ida's storm surge could raise water levels 3 to 5 feet above normal. In Pensacola, Florida, the streets were empty as heavy rain fell. The Gulf was rough and building and winds were howling.

In north Georgia, which saw historic flooding in September, forecasters said up to 4 more inches could soak the already-saturated ground.

Two Chevron Corp. workers weren't injured but had to be rescued from an oil rig about 80 miles south of New Orleans that was in danger of toppling as Ida churned up high seas.

There were no mandatory evacuations, but authorities in coastal areas encouraged people near the water or in mobile homes to seek shelter. Many schools closed, and several cruise ships were delayed as the U.S. Coast Guard closed Gulf Coast ports.

In Louisiana and Mississippi, officials were concerned about hundreds of people still living in federally issued trailers and mobile homes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.