The National Weather Service upgraded Tropical Storm Isaac to a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday, as the storm barreled toward the Gulf Coast. Coastal residents from Louisiana to Alabama were preparing for the storm by boarding up their homes and businesses and fleeing. Isaac has already left a swath of severe damage across Cuba, Haiti and other areas of the Caribbean Sea, and Gulf Coast communities were hoping against hope that the damage wouldn't be as severe. See what's been happening in those regions in the gallery below, from efforts to fend off damage in the Gulf to the ruins it's already left behind.
Hurricane Isaac Bears Down on Gulf Coast
Hurricane Isaac Preparation: Gulf Coast Residents Scramble as Storm Approaches (PHOTOS)
Stacey Davis, left, hands a screw to his son as they board up windows on their home in New Orleans on Tuesday.
Charles Harris carries some of his belongings to his car as he prepares to evacuate from his Lower 9th Ward home Monday in New Orleans. Harris' home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina nearly seven years ago this week.
The new levee wall constructed with reinforced concrete is shown in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans at one of the breach sites from Hurricane Katrina. The Army Corps of Engineers was given about $14 billion to improve flood defenses after Katrina. The majority of the new post-Katrina work has been completed, and the corps says the city is ready to handle a storm that experts say would resemble a Category 3 hurricane.
Rick McLendon looks out from the front of his boarded-up business, Bayou Produce, while he awaits customers Monday in Bayou La Batre, Ala.
Brenda Johns, 66, a survivor of Katrina says that she trusts the Lord will protect her and her nextdoor neighbor, but is taking no chances, securing her home and moving off the beachfront lot in Long Beach, Miss.
Dayea Maya, left, and Roberto Melendez board up their business on Bourbon Street in New Orleans as Isaac heads toward New Orleans on Tuesday.
Some residents are boarding up their homes while others have chosen not to take Isaac seriously in Gulf Shores, Ala. The National Hurricane Center predicted that Isaac would grow to a Category 1 hurricane over the warm Gulf and possibly hit late Tuesday somewhere along a roughly 300-mile stretch from the bayous southwest of New Orleans to the Florida Panhandle.
Daniel Shedd, left, and George Lopez board up a local Bruster's restaurant in Gulf Shores, Ala., on Monday.
Estanislao Fabian loads food into his family's car as they evacuate their home in Plaquemines Parish, La., ahead of Isaac, which is expected to make landfall in the region as a hurricane Tuesday.
Estanislao Fabian's children, Jordan Fabian, 6, and Jaylah Cole, 6, comfort Jaden Fabian, 1, as they evacuate their home.
A woman jogs along Bayshore Boulevard in between squalls blowing across the bay in Tampa, Fla., on Monday.
A boy looks at the camera as he cleans his flooded house after then-Tropical Storm Isaac passed through Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
Finanette Guerrier, 29, bails muddy water from her flooded house in Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
A person walks by a sign warning about Hurricane Isaac in Key West, Fla., on Sunday.
Shira Edllan Gervasi, of Israel, puts her name on plywood protecting a storefront in Key West, Fla., on Saturday before Isaac hit.
A woman stands among her belongings outside her damaged home after the passing of Isaac in Port-au-Prince on Sunday.
A home near the seawall in Baracoa, Cuba, that was built twice within the last two years is left in ruins as Isaac passes through.
A woman walks by a new home after Isaac destroyed the roof in Zoranje village in Port-au-Prince on Saturday. Isaac swept across Haiti's southern peninsula early Saturday, dousing a capital city prone to flooding and adding to the misery of a poor nation still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake.
Residents who live on the Ozama River bank play in the floodwaters triggered by Isaac in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Saturday. Authorities said that they evacuated nearly 3,000 people from low-lying areas, and at least 10 rural settlements were cut off by flooding.
A man stands next to his bed after Isaac destroyed his home and others at a camp in Port-au-Prince set up for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake.