Home are seen surrounded by water after Hurricane Isaac in Ironton, Louisiana August 30, 2012 (Photo : Reuters)
As of 1:00pm CDT, Tropical Storm Isaac was located approximately 25 miles southwest of Monroe, LA. The storm is moving NNW at 9 miles per hour and is expected to turn due north by late Thursday as it heads over Arkansas early on Friday and Missouri by Friday night.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) reports that Isaac continues to drench southeast Louisiana and Mississippi with heavy rainfall. Additionally, although no longer a hurricane, Isaac continues to impose life-threatening hazards due to storm surges, inland flooding and tornadoes. The combination of storm surges and the tide could cause areas near the coast to flood, with water reaching above-ground depths of 4-8 feet in Mississippi and southeast Louisiana, 2-4 feet in Alabama and 1-3 feet in south-central Louisiana.
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While Isaac is expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression by Thursday evening, rains will continue with total rainfall accumulations of 7-14 inches and up to 25 inches over northern and eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, southwestern Alabama, Arkansas and southern Missouri through Friday. Heavy rainfall potential is expected to spread eastward over the weekend into parts of the mid-west and Ohio Valley regions.
Major flooding has been reported in Plaquemines Parish, where a locally-operated levee (not part of the upgraded federal levee system) on the bank of the Mississippi River was overtopped and parts of the area were inundated with 12-14 feet of water. According to Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal, somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 homes were damaged as a result. Northwest of New Orleans, floodwaters rose so high in St. John the Baptist parish that officials were forced to evacuate approximately 3,000 people.
Three-quarters of New Orleans remains without power as of Thursday and the Department of Energy estimates that a total of more than one million residents in Louisiana and Mississippi don't have power. President Obama has declared a federal state of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowing for federal aid money to be utilized in clean-up efforts.
More than 6,000 people across Louisiana are currently in hurricane shelters and the New York Times reports that 5,000 National Guard troops have been deployed to assist in rescue missions. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on New Orleans on Wednesday in a bid to prevent the type of looting that was seen post-Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu warned opportunists that anyone caught looting would receive a stiff three year sentence of "hard labor."
"If you loot, you'll wear an orange suit," Landrieu told residents during a news conference.