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Entries in Isaac (2)

Wednesday
Aug292012

Tropical Storm Isaac Leaves More Than 700K Without Power

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- More than 700,000 people have been left without power in four states as Isaac, now a tropical storm, continues to pummel the Gulf Coast with rain and maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

Forecasters at NOAA are warning that Isaac could create "life-threatening hazards from storm surge and inland flooding as it moves slowly across southeastern Louisiana."

An unofficial rainfall total of 22.5 inches was reported in Arabi, La., near the city's 9th Ward. An official report from Audubon Park in New Orleans listed 17 inches of rainfall.

Three helicopters were in the New Orleans area in case residents needed to be rescued from floodwaters. Each crew was equipped with hoist capability and a rescue swimmer, according to Coast Guard officials.

Hurricane Isaac weakened into a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon -- but not before its powerful storm surge overtopped levees, raising water levels as far as 314 miles up the Mississippi River.

Hurricane warnings were discontinued as the storm moved northwest at 6 mph. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Cameron, La., to the Alabama and Florida border.

Despite the downgrade, forecasters said Isaac wasn't running out of steam just yet.

Six- to 12-foot storm surges were expected in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana, with seven to 14 inches of rainfall.

The Central Gulf Coast region and part of the Lower Mississippi Valley could experience tornados through Thursday.

Isaac, which at its peak was a weak Category 1 hurricane, showed storm surge heights more characteristic of a strong Category 2 storm. The hurricane overtopped levees, knocked down trees and cut power to 716,068 in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi

There were no reports of injuries but dozens of residents of Plaquemines Parish, La., were stranded atop a levee, while there were multiple reports of people trapped in attics by rising waters.

As of mid-afternoon, fewer people had been evacuated than during Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans seven years ago Wednesday.

A total of 56 parishes in Louisiana declared states of emergency, according to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who added that there was a breakaway of a non-federal levee on the East Bank in Plaquemines Parish. The parish had a mandatory evacuation at noon Tuesday. Officials were considering conducting an intentional breach to release some of the water at that levee.

Thousands who live in the area were stuck in their homes or attics, and rescuers were out in boats helping those who needed it most.

There were 19 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration, while approximately 8,200 national guardsmen were available to help with search-and-rescue efforts, according to Gov. Jindal. There were 4,130 people in shelters across the state -- 730 in state-run shelters and 3,237 evacuees in parish-run shelters, according to Jindal.

In advance of the storm, Louisiana set up shelters and stockpiled more than a million packaged meals, 1.4 million bottles of water and 17,000 tarps.

Since the levees failed in Katrina seven years ago, more than $14 billion has been spent on the 133 miles of floodwalls, spillways, gates and pumps surrounding New Orleans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

Louisiana Father-Son Team Rescues 120 from Flooding

ABC News(BRAITHWAITE, La.) -- Residents of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana were shocked by Hurricane Isaac Wednesday morning when ocean water burst over the Mississippi River levee, covering their town and leaving thousands trapped in attics and on roofs.

Jesse Shaffer, 25, and his father, also named Jesse Shaffer, 53, both of Braithwaite, La., stayed behind in their town to rescue their friends.

While police and the fire department were unable to reach some stranded people using their vehicles, the Shaffers were able to save lives using boats.

"We rescued a lot of people, saw a lot of things you never thought you'd see," the older Shaffer told ABC News, beginning to cry.

Each Shaffer controlled a boat, in which the pair saved a combined 120 people in 12 hours, as well as animals.

Their rescue mission began at 5 a.m. Wednesday at a local auditorium, where they rescued 10 people, including a baby and an elderly man, they said. The Shaffers had to break through the attic ventilation system to reach the victims.

"They'd call me and didn't know the water was coming up until it was late, and they'd call me to come get them," the older Shaffer said. "We had to scramble and try to find a boat 'cause none of the sheriff's department or anybody could come to this end of the parish."

The Shaffers rescued a family of five, including three children under the age of 6, from the roof of their trailer home just minutes before water overtopped it. The rescue was the older Shaffer's most memorable of the day.

"They were all on there, screaming their lungs out," he said.

The rapid rate at which water gushed over the 18-mile levee into their town was "unexpected," the younger Shaffer said. As of Wednesday morning, their home had 12 feet of water in it and they had to stash their belongings in the attic, which was then flooded. Water rose six inches every four minutes, the older Shaffer said.

"There were a lot of houses we saw that were in spots that we know where they're supposed to be and they were maybe a half a mile down the road, floating down the highway," the older Shaffer said.

The Shaffers fought through debris, rough water, wind and downed power lines to save their stranded friends.

The older Shaffer insisted they are not heroes and they were never afraid.

"I guess we were just going on adrenaline," the younger Shaffer said.

But the most emotional part of their day was not the difficulty of their rescue mission, but the thought of knowing their town has to rebuild.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio