As Hurricane Isaac continued its slow, wet slog inland along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, New Orleans braced for 14-plus inches of rain as the weakening storm dithered over the city on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous siege there and in parishes south of the Big Easy seven years ago.
In its 10 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center said it expected to downgrade Isaac to a tropical storm this afternoon, but surge from 6 to 12 feet and torrential rain — as much as 20 inches in isolated areas — would continue overnight along the coasts of southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi. Isaac, moving northwest at 6 mph, was expected to turn north-northwest Thursday night and reach Arkansas early Friday.
Click play for footage of storm surge and a report from ABC World News Now.
Isaac came ashore at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday near the mouth of the Mississippi River as a Category 1 hurricane with 80-mph winds, its slow, plodding advance pushing ahead of it an 11-foot surge that poured over the top of an 18-mile stretch of one levee in Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans. Despite an evacuation order, there were reports of some Plaquemines residents who stayed and were trapped overnight on roofs or in attics.
More than 9 inches of rain had fallen on New Orleans in the 24 hours before 7 a.m. today. Isaac was expected to remain over New Orleans Wednesday night.
The storm knocked out power to 482,000 electrical customers across southern Louisiana, about 157,000 of them in New Orleans. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Rachel Rodi said the $14 billion federal upgrade to the levee system that failed New Orleans during Katrina appeared to be standing up to Isaac.
Some 1,800 people in Louisiana and Mississippi died during Katrina, which was a Category 3 hurricane when it overran New Orleans. Isaac or no, the St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica on New Orleans’ Jackson Square planned to toll its bells today in memory of those who were lost.