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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS-- With the possibility of tropical weather entering the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers wants to be ready if the storm heads our way.

Thursday, the Corps closed one gate on the the nearly two-mile long Inner Harbor Navigation Canal - Lake Borgne Surge Barrier.

'The barge gate is one of the first hurricane structures that we will close before an event,' said Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Operations Chris Accardo. 'The reason why we do that it is because it takes several hours to put the barge gate in place.'

Crews started the process of closing the giant barge gate shortly after 12 p.m. Thursday. It's the first time they operated the gate for an actual weather event. It was permanently closed during last year's Hurricane Isaac.

'Just as a precautionary measure if this storm intensifies. If we take more of a direct hit, we'll be prepared to close all the structures,' said Accardo.

Based on current projections, the Army Corps of Engineers does not expect to hit those triggers, the storm surge levels that would require the closure of the other two gates on the surge barrier, the Sector Gate and the Bayou Bienvenue Lift Gate.

'We're talking about a surge of about 4 to 5 feet in this area and we don't think we're going to hit that,' said Accardo.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Fair Grounds put owners on notice to be prepared to move their horses out of harms way.

'As we saw with storms in the past, the barns with any high impact with weather or rain, where there could be debris flying, we want to make sure the horses are safe,' said Fair Ground Marketing Director Mark Conner. 'Really, you have to get in front of it a little earlier. We're typically very conservative.'

The historic race track is also delaying the start of its quarter horse season.

'We obviously want to postpone the beginning of the meet until next week (Wednesday). Our number one priority is make sure the horses and the staff are safe,' said Conner.

The Fair Grounds is also postponing its ostrich races until next Saturday.

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