Isaac claims first life, New Orleans escapes major damage
New Orleans, LA, United States (4E) – Tropical storm Isaac claimed one life in Mississippi on Thursday while sparing New Orleans from major damage.
A tow truck driver died after being struck by a falling tree in Picayune after midnight, according to Amanda Harris, deputy director of the Pearl River County Emergency Management office. Authorities withheld the name of the dead driver.
Meanwhile, New Orleans was not heavily damaged by Isaac as the city’s fortified levee held against floodwaters brought by the former hurricane. From 80 mph upon landfall on Tuesday night, Isaac’s winds weakened to 45 mph by Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.
However, the suburbs of New Orleans were inundated after a storm surge caused flash floods early morning of Thursday. Residents of Slidell and LaPlace had to be rescued from their submerged homes and moved to shelters.
Some 50,000 to 60,000 people living along the Tangipahoa River from Kentwood to Robert towns were ordered to evacuate as a dam in Percy Quin State Park, Mississippi near the Louisiana border was damaged and threaten to break. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is still assessing the damage.
In the marshy Plaquemines Parish, the 18-mile, 8-foot-high levee failed to hold floodwaters that damaged 800 homes and prompted the rescue of dozens of stranded residents. Some 3,000 people on the west bank were ordered to evacuate.
In St. John the Baptist Parish, 1,500 people trapped by up to 6 feet of water were evacuated late Wednesday.
In Mississippi, two dozens of stranded people in Pearlington were rescued.
The National Weather Service said Isaac spawned three tornadoes that knocked down power lines and damaged homes in Gulfport and Jackson, Mississippi and in Geneva, Alabama.
Across Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, 978,000 people were without electricity.
Forecasters said the slow-moving Isaac will be over Arkansas on Friday, and over southern Missouri Friday night. The storm will continue to dump rains as it moves inland.