Hurricane Isaac hits Louisiana on Katrina anniversary
Residents of New Orleans were forced to wait out another storm just hours before the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Isaac’s approach left deserted streets from the New Orleans’ famous French Quarter to Tampa, 480 miles away, where Republicans at their party’s national convention stayed put with only a passing mention of the storm’s arrival.
A Category One hurricane with winds at 80 mph, Isaac came ashore near the mouth of the Mississippi River in south-eastern Louisiana, drenching a sparsely populated neck of land that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico.
But the worst was still to come as the slow-moving storm chugged along on a track that would take it just west of New Orleans, roughly 70 miles to the north.
At midnight on Tuesday, the hurricane had slowed to a forward speed of 7mph. It was forecast to slow down even more over the next few days as it drifts over the south-eastern coast of Louisiana before heading inland, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.
While less powerful than Katrina, Isaac let loose ferocious winds and soaking rains that knocked out power to more than 200,000 homes and businesses.
The storm added insult to injury with its timing, arriving just before the anniversary of the hurricane that devastated New Orleans seven years ago.
Although many residents stayed in New Orleans, evacuations were ordered in many low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, where officials took precautions and closed 12 shorefront casinos.
One of the main concerns along the shoreline was storm surge, which occurs when hurricane winds raise sea levels off the coast, causing flooding on land.
“A storm surge of 10.3 feet was reported at Shell Beach, Louisiana, while a surge of 6.7 feet was reported in Waveland, Mississippi,” the Hurricane Center said.
Ed Rappaport, the centre’s deputy director, said Isaac’s core would pass west of New Orleans with winds close to 80 mph and head for Baton Rouge.
“On this course, the hurricane will gradually weaken,” Mr Rappaport said. He added that gusts could reach about 100 mph at times, especially at higher levels, which could damage high-rise buildings in New Orleans.