Isaac downgraded to tropical storm, still a threat
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still poses a very lethal threat. The storm has dumped nearly two feet of rain on some parts of coastal Louisiana.
The Louisiana National Guard rescued between 60 and 70 people in Plaquemines Parish, which was hit hard by flooding as Isaac stormed through. None had any serious injuries, though an elderly woman who required dialysis was taken to a hospital.
More than 700,000 people have been left without power in four states as Isaac continues to pummel the Gulf Coast with rain and maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
The storm is bringing drenching rains and fierce winds to New Orleans, but the city is prepared because of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the area seven years ago on Wednesday. After Katrina, the city's levee system was given a $14 billion makeover, so people said they're confident things will hold up this time.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has declared a curfew in the city in order to make things easier for utility crews working through the night. About 125,000 people in New Orleans were without power.
Strong gusts slammed the coast Tuesday night when Isaac first hit landfall in Louisiana. People witnessed a wall of water nearly 11 feet high soaking the coast and many roads. In Plaquemines Parish, several homes were flooded when water surged over a levee. The levee was not breached, but many residents said roofs were blown off by powerful winds.
"That's the same kind of damage we received in Katrina, and I am just blown away at that kind of damage from this supposedly Category 1 storm," said Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish president.
At a news conference Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said coastal officials may intentionally break a levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish to relieve pressure on the structure. He said there's no estimate on when that might occur.
Jindal has ordered a mandatory evacuation for the west bank below Belle Chasse. The evacuation was ordered out of concern that more storm surge from Isaac would be pushed into the area and levees might be overtopped. The rain from Isaac is expected to last several days, so officials are bracing for major flooding.
Isaac could dump about 20 inches of rain in some areas when it's all said and done, officials said.
In Southern California, local emergency response teams from Riverside County were activated Tuesday night so they can head out to the Gulf to assist with the damage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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