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The storm is expected to make landfall early Sunday morning as a Category 2 storm, dumping three to six inches of rain from the central Gulf Coast all the way up to the southern Appalachians, according to the National Weather Service.
In New Orleans, where a heavy rainstorm in August lead to pump failures and major flooding throughout the city, officials are urging residents not to take their chances with this storm. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landieu imposed a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Saturday until Sunday morning.
The curfew has left restaurant owners throughout the city scrambling to reschedule reservations.
Celebrity Chef John Besh said he had to shift his focus from making meals for victims of Hurricane Irma and Harvey to preparing his restaurants for Hurricane Nate.
Besh, who owns August and Besh Steak, among other popular restaurants throughout the city, said all his locations will close after lunch Saturday and re-open Monday morning.
“A lot of the times we think we have these storms figured out but we don’t and we need to just err on the side of caution and safety,” he said, adding that the safety of his employees is paramount.
After the flooding in August, Besh said he had to replace the entire first floor of two of his restaurants. And while closing for a weekend will likely hurt his bottom line for the rest of the month, Besh said he’s learned his lessons from past storms.
“Each one of these storms are totally different,” he said. “Just when you think you kind of have a plan, you have to plan on Murphy’s Law.”
The New Orleans House of Blues canceled Saturday’s concerts and Sunday’s popular gospel brunch, according to Ticketmaster. Preservation Hall, the legendary jazz shrine, has canceled all of its shows until Sunday evening, box office manager Mike McDermott said in an email.
Restaurant owners throughout the city said they were preparing for the worst. At Bayona, a popular restaurant in the French Quarter, the head chef and owner Susan Spicer said she was waiting to make a decision on closing.
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Spicer said she closed two of her restaurants located in the more flood-prone neighborhood of Lakeview, but she’s willing to keep the French Quarter location open to accommodate people who are stranded in the neighborhood by the storm.
“It’s been a tough summer and we’ve already lost a couple of Saturday nights due to storm and hurricane threats,” she said. “But the important thing is making sure our employees are doing what they need to do to be safe and hopefully we can accommodate some local residents.”
At a news conference Saturday, Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler announced that voting in Saturday’s municipal elections will be suspended at several early-voting polling locations in parishes that could see the earliest impact from Hurricane Nate.
Voters in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Tammany and Plaquemines Parish, were urged to cast their ballots before 3 p.m. Saturday, and Schedler said there are no plans to make up the three hours that will be lost because of the storm. Locations throughout the rest of the state will close at 6 p.m.
Nate is already blamed for deaths in Central America. Eleven deaths have been reported in Nicaragua, 10 deaths were reported in Costa Rica, and one person was reported killed in Honduras, officials said.