Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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GRETNA, La. -- There is a state of emergency in lower Jefferson Parish as emergency managers track Tropical Storm Karen in the gulf.

While the storm is now expected to make landfall east of the New Orleans metro area, parish leaders are getting prepared just in case.

'We're on top of the situation,' said Jefferson Parish President John Young. 'All of our essential personnel are on alert for this weekend. We have our public works people lined up. We have our public works strike force ready to go with vacuum trucks, whatever is needed.'

Crews spent the day setting up tents, stages and other venues for the Gretna Heritage Festival on the West Bank of Jefferson Parish.

Organizer and JP Councilman Ricky Templet also spent some time behind the scenes, watching then forecast for Karen.

'We're looking at some winds late Friday evening, some rain, 2 to 3 inches late that evening. Early Saturday morning is the predicted forecast, right now,' said Templet.

Organizers say the good thing about Gretna Fest is that most of the venues are on the pavement and streets of the city.

But, the main stage is on the levee along the Mississippi River. Crews have already put on good layer of mulch to keep the area from getting all muddy, in advance of what could be some heavy rains this weekend.

Templet hopes Karen will be more rain than wind.

'Some of these structures are rated for certain winds, speaking to the national forecasters as of now, we will not exceed those safety measures, but we have to be prepared to make sure the event is safe and equipment is safe as well.'

Meanwhile, in lower Jefferson Parish, there is a voluntary evacuation order in effect on Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island.

The one highway on or off Grand Isle, LA-1, is prone to flooding during major storm events.

'The biggest concern we would have is the back side of Grand Isle where they would take water from the basin and in addition to that LA-1,' said JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts.

Roberts also said when you have any type of a tropical system, it can cut off access to the island.

'Particularly for those elderly residents that may have medical needs, we don't want them to get trapped and not get out.'

The town of Jean Lafitte, which is outside the levee protection, is also vulnerable during a tropical storm.

Wednesday, boats and fishermen there spent the day on Bayou Barataria returning inland from the rough waters in the gulf.

For now, there is no voluntary evacuation order for Lafitte, Crown Point or Barataria.

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