Isaac drenches Louisana, flooding homes, killing power
Louisiana’s energy department said one million utility customers were without power in four states because of Isaac, down from 1.05 million at 10 a.m. A total of 846,409 Louisiana customers, or 37 per cent, and 140,457 customers in Missisippi, or 9 per cent, did not have electricity, the department said on its website. Less than 1 per cent of Alabama and Arkansas customers experienced outages.
And the damage may not be done. Waters continued to rise and a dam at a lake near the Louisiana-Mississippi border was under a lot of pressure and power lines and trees were felled as Isaac moved into Arkansas.
Farther south, evacuations were ordered widely ahead of the storm, but Isaac’s unpredictable, meandering path and the amount of rain – as much as 40 centimetres in some places – caught many off guard.
“I was blindsided, nobody expected this,” said Richard Musatchia, who left his home in LaPlace, northwest of New Orleans.
Mr. Musatchia said 1.5 metres of water filled his home before a neighbour passed by with a boat and evacuated him and his six-year-old boxer, Renny.
David Newman was frustrated the government spent billions reinforcing levees for New Orleans and Jefferson Parish after Katrina and now he had the water.
“The water’s got to go somewhere,” he said. “It’s going to find the weakest link, and with the wind directions, we were ground zero.”
As officials called for impromptu evacuations, a debate started about whether anyone was to blame.
Along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3,000 people as rising waters lapped against houses and left cars stranded. Flood waters rose waist-high in some neighbourhoods, and the Louisiana National Guard was working with sheriff’s deputies to rescue people stranded in their homes.
Isaac’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to 64 km/h , and the National Hurricane Center said it was expected to become a tropical depression by Thursday night, meaning its top sustained winds would drop below 62 km/h . The storm’s centre was on track to cross Arkansas on Friday and southern Missouri on Friday night, spreading rain as it goes.
Forecasters expected Isaac to move farther inland over the next several days, dumping rain on drought-stricken states across the United States midsection before finally breaking up over the weekend.