JEAN LAFITTE, La. – Bands of heavy rain and strong wind gusts from Tropical Storm Lee knocked out power to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi on Saturday and prompted evacuations in bayou towns such as Jean Lafitte, where water was lapping at the front doors of some homes.

The sluggish storm stalled just offshore for several hours before resuming its slow march northward late in the afternoon. Landfall was expected later in the day, and the storm threatened to dump more than a foot of rain across the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast in coming days.

No injuries were reported, but there were scattered instances of water entering low-lying homes and businesses in Louisiana.

To the east, many coastal businesses that depend on a strong Labor Day weekend were suffering. Alabama beaches that would normally be packed were largely empty, and rough seas closed the Port of Mobile. Mississippi’s coastal casinos, however, were open and reporting brisk business.

In Jean Laffite, water was a foot deep under Eva Alexie’s house, which is raised about 8 feet off the flat ground.

“I should be used to this,” said Alexie, a 76-year-old storm veteran who lost a home to Hurricane Ike in 2008. “It happens pretty often. I just thank God it won’t be getting in my house this time.”

She clutched an umbrella and a pair of blue rubber gloves as she walked down Louisiana Highway 45, on her way to her husband’s shrimp boat to clean a recent catch.

The center of the slow-moving storm was about 55 miles south of Lafayette, La., Saturday afternoon, spinning intermittent bands of stormy weather, alternating with light rain and occasional sunshine. It was moving north at about 4 mph in the late afternoon.

Its maximum sustained winds were 60 mph, but their intensity was expected to decrease by today. Tropical storm warnings stretched from the Louisiana-Texas state line to Destin, Fla.

The National Weather Service reported two-day rain totals approaching 9 inches in parts of south Louisiana and more than 5 inches near the Mississippi coast. Forecasts said rain totals along the coast could reach 10 to 15 inches, even 20 in isolated spots.

The Entergy utility company reported more than 37,000 customer outages at one point Saturday morning but that was down to below 18,000 by midday as the utility restored electricity. Cleco Corp., another major utility, reported 3,500 outages.

In New Orleans, sporadic downpours caused some street flooding in low-lying areas early Saturday, but pumps were sucking up the water and sending it into Lake Pontchartrain.