As Isaac floodwaters top levee, Plaquemines ordered to evacuate (+video)
Plaquemines Parish officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation as flooding from Hurricane Isaac topped a levee Wednesday morning.
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"While we've taken every measure possible to prevent this, unfortunately it remains a possibility," Drennan said. "It's unprecedented for a hurricane to bring tropical force winds for a 24- to 36- hour duration, and with that we will likely experience some atypical flooding. In addition to those areas which tend to flood during extensive rainfall, we may have some accumulation in areas which are normally dry. We don't anticipate the waters reaching anywhere near those of Hurricane Katrina, but want citizens to be prepared for some possible flooding. We also want to state emphatically that citizens should stay off the roads during this time."Skip to next paragraph
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Drennan said most of the city was without power, and conditions were still too dangerous for standby Cleco crews to attempt to restore power.
Floodgates were closed on area waterways to block Isaac's storm surge, part of the flood protection system rebuilt with billions of dollars of federal aid after Hurricane Katrina struck seven years ago. Large pumps designed to remove any floodwater from the low-lying level city on the Mississippi River were functioning as planned, Berni said. But he urged residents to remain vigilant and sheltered as long as the winds and rain bands were lashing New Orleans.
"We fully expect people to stay inside and not impede any efforts by our first responders," Berni said.
Early Wednesday, police officers were patrolling and TV news trucks moved about the streets of New Orleans where water ponded along the sides. The still-passable streets downtown didn't appear to be seriously flooded though some wind-blown tree branches and signs littered the ground.
Buildings in the downtown also didn't appear to have any significant damage.
At the International House Hotel, just outside the French Quarter, an early morning false alarm roused guests after windblown debris apparently shattered a window.
They were supposed to fly out of New Orleans on Wednesday after a vacation but the flight was canceled. It was deja-vu for the couple as they were trapped for two days in New York City last year when Irene, another hurricane, rolled up the Eastern Seaboard.
About 3 a.m. Wednesday, they were awakened by the sound of their hotel window shattering — possibly by flying debris.
It was a nerve-racking experience.
"I just don't know what to expect," Dewis said. "Hurricanes are so foreign to us."
She and her boyfriend joked that their next vacation probably won't be anywhere near a coastline.
"Definitely inland," she said. "Saskatchewan or something."
Meanwhile, more than half a million people were without power across the state's southern parishes, including more than 300,000 in New Orleans and its suburbs, power provider Entergy reported.
Though Isaac wasn't packing Katrina's punch, evacuations were mandatory in about a half-dozen parishes.
Coastal communities were largely abandoned after evacuation orders.
Houma, an oil patch community about 30 miles inland, was in darkness after power failed. The center of Isaac was expected to pass over the city as the storm slowly moved inland. Traffic signals swayed amid sheets of wind-driven rain as Isaac lurked nearby. Debris littered roadways.
Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.