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Bobby Jindal skips Republican convention as storm looms

Washington, Aug 28, 2012: With tropical storm Isaac bearing down on his home state, Louisiana's Indian-American governor, Bobby Jindal, considered a rising Republican conservative star, decided to skip the party's presidential convention in Tampa Florida.

Now is not the time for politics, Jindal, who was to make a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday told a news conference in the state capital of Baton Rouge Monday as the approaching storm pushed the convention schedule back a day.

"Certainly party conventions are interesting, but there's no time for politics here in Louisiana," the governor was quoted as saying by the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Isaac's projected path took it directly toward New Orleans for a projected landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday, nearly seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the state's largest city and a major US port.

CBS News citing the National Hurricane Centre reported that the storm's maximum sustained winds could be up to 100 mph by the time it makes landfall. A hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida line.

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and informed Jindal in a phone call Monday, the White House said.

The declaration makes federal funding available for emergency activities related to the storm. Obama also spoke with Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Obama has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts with state and local officials along the Gulf Coast.

Forecasters predict Isaac will intensify into a Category 1 hurricane later Monday or Tuesday. Isaac could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since 2008.

Many New Orleans residents are fleeing the storm's path, as Isaac revives painful memories from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Residents of low-lying coastal areas from the Florida Panhandle to southeastern Louisiana were ordered to evacuate ahead of storm surges and heavy rain, CNN reported.

Jindal called on residents in coastal parishes prone to flooding to voluntarily evacuate. He has also activated over 4,000 National Guard personnel to assist with evacuation and logistics.......................IANS