In Louisiana town in the Gulf of Mexico, some flee storm and others "ride it out"

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate in Louisiana this morning, as residents brace for extreme flooding and their potential first hurricane of the season. President Trump has already announced a federal declaration of emergency for the state.

The mayor of Grand Isle, Louisiana, a town in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico that sits barely above sea level, has ordered a mandatory evacuation.  

"When the tide comes in from the north side of the island or the back side of the island, that could cause severe flooding," said mayor David Camardelle. That could put the only road in and out of the island underwater. 

Approximately 1,400 people live in Grand Isle -- and Camardelle is urging them to prepare. "Right now, they way I'm looking at the tides... [it's] too late to get off the island," he said. 

Louisianians in low-lying areas are bracing as the season's first expected hurricane looms. "Hopefully, fingers crossed, and if the Lord says the same, you know, we'll survive this one," said one resident.

Residents are tying up boats, stocking up on supplies, and preparing sandbags. "Help people that need help, ride it out, party it up," one resident said. "Have a good time."   

But for those who are choosing to stay behind, more than 200 flood gates have been closed in preparation -- and all eyes are on the levees that have been improved since Hurricane Katrina. 

"We in between two major bodies of water and the only thing protecting us is two… levees, and one of them failed already," one resident said.

With all the rain, the Mississippi River is expected to crest at 19 feet, just a foot below the top of the levees. 

"Obviously, conditions can change," a representative for the Army Corps said at a press conference. "So residents should stay vigilant and prepared should any changes occur."