Thousands Being Rescued as Waters Rise from Isaac

CNN News Wire | 8/30/2012, 7 p.m.
Louisiana and Mississippi officials conducted search-and-rescue missions Wednesday for residents stranded by slow-moving Tropical Storm Isaac, which flooded homes

Louisiana and Mississippi officials conducted search-and-rescue missions Wednesday for residents stranded by slow-moving Tropical Storm Isaac, which flooded homes and pushed water over the top of several levees. While Isaac lost its hurricane status Wednesday afternoon, officials warned of continued life-threatening hazards from storm surges and local flooding. The surge was unusually bad in LaPlace, about 25 miles northwest of New Orleans, where many people had been rescued or still needed to escape rapidly rising water, said Paige Falgoust, communications director for St. John the Baptist Parish. The storm surge from Lake Ponchartrain came quickly and "in a different way from what we were expecting," Falgoust said. "In some areas the water levels rose in 10 minutes to where they could not get out of their homes," she said. According to a release from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's office, 1,500 people had been evacuated with 1,500 more needing rescue. The state sent 89 buses to take evacuees to shelters. The situation also was particularly dire in Plaquemines Parish, southeast of New Orleans, where 3,000 people remained in one area close to an 8-foot tall levee that waters are threatening, the governor's office said. One involved National Guard troops who moved 112 residents from the Riverbend nursing home to another facility. Dozens of Louisiana families that had ignored mandatory evacuation orders in a low-lying area retreated to their attics and roofs and sought rescue amid the howling wind and pounding rain. Meanwhile, officials said there were 12 incidents of looting. New Orleans Police said arrests were made in each case, but didn't specify how many people were involved. The region's largest power provider, meanwhile, told customers to prepare for "extended power outages." Overall, power companies said more than 817,000 customers were without power in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Texas and Arkansas. More than three-fourths of the outages were in Louisiana. The storm's center was about 30 miles south of Baton Rouge and about 60 miles west of New Orleans, the hurricane agency said. Isaac could bring 14 inches of rain across the region, and as much as 20 inches in some areas, including parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, the hurricane center had predicted. The center of the storm "will move farther inland over Louisiana tonight and tomorrow, and move over southern Arkansas by early Friday," the hurricane center said. Isaac, which was a tropical storm last week in the Atlantic Ocean, killed nearly two dozen people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic before starting its journey across the Gulf of Mexico. On Tuesday, Isaac made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane.