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Entries in Tropical Storm Isaac (8)

Thursday
Aug302012

Mississippi Dam Failure Feared After Tropical Storm Isaac

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW YORK) -- Heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Isaac is threatening a dam in southern Mississippi, leading local officials to order an evacuation.

Mississippi emergency management notified Gohsep and Tangipahoa Parish, La., government of an "imminent failure" of the dam at Lake Tangipahoa in Mississippi's Percy Quin State Park, which is expected to cause additional flooding along the already-swollen Tangipahoa river. The park and dam are near the Louisiana border.

The Department of Environmental Quality, looking to relieve the pressure of the dam, may instead continue sandbagging the area or pump water over the dam into the agriculture surrounding areas.

About 19 to 20 families one mile on either side of the river have been ordered to evacuate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, adding that Mississippi authorities may execute a controlled breach of the dam.

Gordon Burgess, president of Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana, ordered residents who live near the dam to evacuate by 1:30 p.m. ET.

McComb, Miss., Mayor Whitney Rawlings said that the dam is still holding, but the major concern is that it may fail. McComb said there is currently a 50-percent chance the dam will fail.

The town of Kentwood, Miss., is expected to be hit with flooding first. EMA Operations Manager Richard Cogland at Percy Quinn Lake says they are lowering the lake level but that the dam is currently still holding.

The evacuation advisory from the Louisiana Emergency Management Agency ordered that "all low lying areas and along the Tangipahoa river" be evacuated due to the potential failure of the Percy Quin dam. A precautionary evacuation of the area south of Lake Tangipahoa in Pike County has been issued by the Pike County Emergency Management Agency.

Engineers from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and officials from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are assessing the damage at the structure in Percy Quin State Park, according to Mississippi Emergency Operations Center.

As Isaac moves away from New Orleans, the storm is surrounding areas of Louisiana and spinning off tornadoes across Mississippi and Alabama.  

Rescue operations are still under way in Plaquemines Parish, where more than 100 people in the parish have been rescued so far. A levee in Plaquemines Parish will be intentionally breached at some point Thursday to relieve pressure on it. That area has been under mandatory evacuation.

More than 725,000 homes and businesses throughout Louisiana were without power as of 2 a.m. Police reported few problems with looting.

In Mississippi, Highway 90 remains shut down, with much of area now submerged in water. 30,000 customers are without power in Gulfport, Miss., alone, where an apparent tornado spawned by the storm ripped a house from the ground.

In Biloxi, powerful winds are ravaging the city as residents begin to worry about raw sewage and mold.

President Obama declared federal emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi late Wednesday, according to a statement from the White House. The disaster declarations free up federal aid for affected areas.

Forecasters expected Isaac to move inland over the next several days, dumping rain on drought-stricken states across the nation's midsection before finally breaking up over the weekend. The storm was expected to weaken to a tropical depression Thursday, according to the Hurricane Center.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Tropical Storm Isaac Causes First Death as Tornadoes Ravage Region

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Tropical Storm Isaac moves away from the Gulf Coast and into the country's interior, spinning off tornadoes across two states, the storm has caused its first death in Pearl River County, Miss.

A tow truck driver was killed on the job by a tree that fell around midnight, Pearl River Emergency Management Deputy Director Amanda Harris told ABC News on Thursday.  The man's name and age has not yet been released.

"[The county] is completely flooded.  And it's only going to get worse," Harris said, adding that rivers and creeks along the county near the Louisiana border will not crest until midnight Thursday night through 4 a.m.

"The worst is yet to come," Harris said.

Pearl River County conducted four search and rescue operations and it is believed there are no more residents holding out in their homes, Harris said.  The county is receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state agencies and neighboring counties.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for intra-coastal city Louisiana to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.

Lt. Vernon Smith of the Pascagoula, Miss., police told ABC News that a tornado touched down at 8:20 a.m. Thursday just south of town that sits 28 miles from Biloxi.

"It landed right on top of a house, just sat on it," Smith said, adding that people were believed to be inside.  "There are people injured."

Smith said the tornado was now off the ground and moving through the main part of town, having traveled about a mile since touchdown.  

Officials are mobilizing emergency crews, but the torrential rain has made roads impassable.  The two to three feet of water flooding the area is too much for emergency vehicles to handle.

"We can't get through and we are scrambling," said Smith.

A tornado that touched down in Gulfport, Miss., has caused the most damage, where significant destruction to homes has been reported.  Carlos Redmond, a spokesman for Harrison County Emergency Management, said it's assessing the damage.

"We're looking for daylight.  That's what we're looking for.  We'll be able to tell a lot more at that time," Redmond told ABC News Thursday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Tropical Storm Isaac Continues to Dump Rain on Louisiana

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW YORK) -- As slow-moving tropical storm Isaac moves away from New Orleans, surrounding areas of Louisiana are expected to see almost two feet of rain and more dangerous floods by the end of the week.  Meanwhile, seven tornadoes have spun off from Isaac in Mississippi and Alabama so far.

A tornado that touched down in Gulfport, Miss., has caused the most damage, where significant destruction to homes has been reported.  Carlos Redmond, a spokesman for Harrison County Emergency Management said they're still assessing the damage.

"We're looking for daylight.  That's what we're looking for.  We'll be able to tell a lot more at that time," Redmond told ABC News on Thursday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said tornadoes are possible along the central Gulf Coast region and parts of the lower Mississippi Valley through Thursday.

The rising waters from rain and flooding has already left locals scrambling up to attics and onto roofs.  The main parishes that are an area of concern are those that sit around Lake Pontchartrain.  With another four to seven inches of rain expected, many officials are worried about the rising waters.

Officials in LaPlace, La. -- about 25 miles northwest of New Orleans -- in St. John the Baptist Parish said the situation is dire.

"I'm afraid the tide is really going to catch some of us off guard tonight," Parish President Layton Ricks told ABC News late Wednesday night.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in LaPlace since 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to a National Guard officer, with more than a 1,000 waiting for rescue, as the city sees its worst flooding in 40 years.  The Louisiana National Guard said they will be out in force Thursday across St. John the Baptist Parish, assisting in rescue efforts.

Towns southwest of New Orleans have already gotten about 20 inches of rain, with another four to seven inches possible.  New Orleans International Airport has officially seen 10 inches of rain so far.

More than 725,000 homes and businesses throughout Louisiana are without power.

As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Isaac was about 55 miles southeast of Alexandria, La., and about 110 miles northwest of New Orleans.  Tropical storm winds extend outward up to 175 miles.  Isaac's maximum sustained winds are at 45 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

A tropical storm warning was still in effect from Cameron, La., to the Mississippi-Alabama state border, according to the Hurricane Center.

President Obama declared federal emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi late Wednesday, according to a statement from the White House.  The disaster declarations free up federal aid for affected areas.

Of Louisiana's 64 parishes, 58 were under states of emergency Thursday morning.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Isaac Gains Hurricane Strength, Bears Down on Gulf Coast

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW YORK) -- Forecasters Tuesday upgraded Tropical Storm Isaac to a Category 1 hurricane just hours before it's expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast, while warning that the biggest threat will be the rainfall and storm surge, not the wind.

Isaac, a massive and slow-moving storm, will make landfall as early as Tuesday night, a day short of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Isaac's path is similar to Katrina's and the anniversary has left much of the Gulf Coast on "a high level of anxiety."

Winds are now 75 miles per hour and are expected to rise to at least 80 mph when Isaac makes landfall. Forecasters say the big threat will be the storm surge around New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss., where water might rise six to nine feet. The hurricane is forecasted to hover over the Gulf Coast and could punish coastal areas with up to 20 inches of rain.

"The models show [Isaac's] forward speed slowing down, and that's not good, when a large system moves slowly, that means a lot of rainfall," Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, told Good Morning America today.

As of 11:20 a.m. ET, the center of the hurricane was 80 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving northwest at 10 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Obama on Tropical Storm Isaac: 'Now Is Not the Time to Tempt Fate'

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama headed out on another campaign swing, he made sure to let everyone know that Tropical Storm Isaac, which is barreling toward the Gulf Coast, is very much on his mind.

“Now is not the time to tempt fate.  Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings.  You need to take this seriously,” Obama warned Tuesday from the Diplomatic Room of the White House.

The president reiterated the steps that he and the federal government have taken: declaring a disaster in Louisiana ahead of the storm, sending the Federal Emergency Management Agency teams in last week, and receiving regular updates from his advisors and the National Hurricane Center.

But it’s up to residents of the Gulf Coast to do their part, he said.

“I want to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions, including if they tell you to evacuate.  We’re dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area,” he said.

As he finished, Obama ignored a question about whether it’s appropriate to continue campaigning in light of the impending storm.  Shortly after the statement, he boarded Marine One on his way to a two-day, three-city campaign swing that will include stops in the critical election states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Storm Surge, Rainfall Biggest Concern as Isaac Nears

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW ORLEANS) -- Isaac remains a tropical storm with a chance of becoming a weak Category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall, but forecasters say the biggest threat will be rainfall and the storm surge.

Forecasters have projected landfall as early as Tuesday night -- a day short of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  On Monday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Isaac's similar path as Katrina and the anniversary was leaving much of the Gulf Coast on "a high level of anxiety."

Winds will be an issue initially when Isaac makes landfall with gusts up to 75 mph.  Forecasters say the big threat with Isaac will be the storm surge around New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss., where water might rise six to nine feet.  The slow moving storm could punish coastal areas with up to 20 inches of rain, which was one of Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal's main concerns on Monday.

As of 2 a.m. ET Tuesday, the center of the storm was 145 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving northwest at 12 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Despite hurricane warnings extended across more than 330 miles from Louisiana to western Florida, all eyes are still on New Orleans as this will be its first big test since Katrina.

Since the levees failed seven years ago over $14 billion have been spent on the 133-mile long floodwalls, spillways, gates and pumps surrounding New Orleans.  While officials say the city is more prepared now than they were in 2005, they're still taking no chances when it comes to evacuations.

Jindal warned people in low lying areas to get out of Isaac's way.

"Today is the day," the governor said on Monday.  "Today is the final day you should be taking any final precautions.  If you want to evacuate, today is the day to do that."

Jindal said over 4,000 National Guardsmen will be mobilized in case of emergency, but said he does not anticipate having to activate contraflow highway rules for evacuation purposes.

He also said that President Obama called him on Monday to say that the governor's request for a pre-landfall federal disaster declaration had been approved.  The approval opens up federal funding to potentially help Louisiana cope with any damage.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Tropical Storm Isaac's Slow Pace Makes It More Dangerous

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW ORLEANS, La.) -- Tropical Storm Isaac's plodding pace through the Gulf of Mexico means the slow-moving storm could punish coastal areas with up to 36 hours of tropical winds and 10 to 16 inches of rain, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned Monday.

Isaac, which is packing winds of 65 mph, is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of at least 74 mph by the time it reaches land late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Jindal said the threat that New Orleans would be inundated on the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina was lessening.

FEMA director Craig Fugate and the National Hurricane Center's Dr. Rick Knabb say there has been too much focus on New Orleans bracing for Isaac on the anniversary of Katrina.

"I think people need to understand this is not a New Orleans storm. This is a Gulf Coast storm," Fugate said today.

Fugate and Jindal warned people in low lying areas to get out of Isaac's way.

"Today is the day," Jindal said. "Today is the final day you should be taking any final precautions. If you want to evacuate, today is the day to do that."

Overnight, 50,000 people had already evacuated from southeast Louisiana's St. Charles parish. In addition, 2,000 jail inmates have been moved out of Isaac's expected path.

Jindal said over 4,000 National Guardsmen will be mobilized in case of emergency, but said he does not anticipate having to activate contraflow highway rules for evacuation purposes.

While not packing winds of some stronger hurricanes, Isaac's slow pace means it "could actually cause more damage," the governor said.

He said the storm could batter areas with tropical winds for up to 36 hours and could dump more than a foot of rain while lingering over some areas.

Jindal said he is skipping the Republican National Convention in Florida where he was expected to speak because of Isaac. "I will not be speaking or attending the Republican National Convention in Florida. There is no time for politics here in Louisiana," he said.

Fugate warned that Isaac's biggest punch may land in Alabama or Mississippi. The National Hurricane Center said to expect a storm surge of at least six feet with the possibility it could reach up to 12 feet.

Alabama and Mississippi have already joined Louisiana in declaring states of emergency. A tropical storm warning is in effect along the Texas and Louisiana border.

The storm is currently off the west coast of Florida and is moving in the direction of the northern Gulf Coast.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Tropical Storm Isaac: Hurricane Warnings Issued for Gulf Coast

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW YORK) -- As Tropical Storm Isaac grazed the Florida Keys with less force than was feared, hurricane warnings have been issued for the Gulf Coast from Central Louisiana to the Florida panhandle with Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana declaring state of emergencies ahead of the storm's landfall.

Isaac is expected to strengthen to a weak Category 2 or Category 1 hurricane before making landfall along the Gulf Coast by Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.  Hurricane warnings were issued from east of Morgan City, La. -- which includes New Orleans -- to Destin, Fla.

If it hits the Gulf Coast Wednesday morning, as forecasters said is possible, it would come on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds of people and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans.  

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu admitted anxiety levels are high.

"The timing of this storm coming on, as fate would have it, the anniversary of Katrina, has everybody in a state and sense of alertness and that is a good thing," he said Sunday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and said he's "strongly advising" people in low lying areas of coastal Louisiana to evacuate ahead of the storm.

"There is a 70 to 80 percent chance we'll have tropical storm winds in southeast Louisiana and again as it moves west you'll see more of our state could potentially be covered, by those wind warnings," Jindal said on Sunday.

As of 11 p.m. EST Sunday, Isaac's winds were whipping at 65 mph and expected to strengthen as it moves over the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico.  The center of the storm is about 110 miles west, southwest of the Florida Keys, according to the National Hurricane Center.  To be considered a Category 1 hurricane, winds have to be 74 mph or higher.

"With winds of that strength, one of the greatest concerns is storm surge, where the water will be moving ashore, blown in by the winds," said Ed Rappaport, forecaster with the National Hurricane Center.

Since the storm is apparently moving further west, the Tampa Bay area is not expected to be affected as much as was previously thought.  Fears that Isaac would pound Tampa, Fla., on Monday led GOP officials to decide to postpone the start of the Republican National Convention, which was scheduled to begin on Monday.

A tropical storm warning is still in effect for Tampa Bay and Miami.

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