Hurricane Isaac has tormented New Orleans and its surrounding regions for the majority of Wednesday; moving at a painfully slow speed and causing significant problems for the less protected rural areas outside of the city.
Exactly seven years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in New Orleans, Hurricane Isaac has pummeled the region again. Isaac is much weaker than Katrina, but its slow progression to pass over the region and its extensive rainfall have caused major problems for numerous areas.
On Wednesday night Isaac had weakened back to tropical storm strength, but was still drenching New Orleans with rainfall. An overnight curfew has been declared by the mayor of New Orleans, who is hoping to avoid any kind of repeat of the looting and chaos that accompanied the aftermath of Katrina seven years ago.
The multi-billion dollar flood defenses put in place following Katrina have stood firm, however, less protected areas have been hit hard and sea water breached a levee in a town to the south if New Orleans early on Wednesday.
The immense size of Isaac, which is nearly 400 miles across, combined with its slow speed – it was moving at just 6 mph for most of Wednesday – means that New Orleans and its surrounding regions will be dealing with the storm for much longer than most hurricanes would linger.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has reported on Wednesday that officials are expecting his state to be dealing with Isaac "through early Friday morning."
Plaquemines Parish, which is about 65 miles south of New Orleans has been one of the worst hit areas since Isaac made landfall. Authorities in the area have announced plans to punch a hole in one of its levees to relieve pressure from flooding. The region has seen extensive flooding with many homes being put under water and dozens having to be rescued from the area.
Plaquemines Parish was the first area to be hit by Isaac; the hurricane hit – then as a category 1 – only to head back out to sea before making a second landfall at Port Fourchon at 2 a.m. local time. Authorities in Plaquemines Parish have said the damage experienced by the area has been significantly worse than it suffered in Hurricane Katrina.
The National Guard, as well as air and sea water rescue efforts have been launched, however, teams are being hampered by powerful winds.
Rainfall and storm surges remain the major concerns for most regions. In some areas storm surges of up to 12 feet have been witnessed. Areas in parts of Mississippi and southeast Louisiana have been warned that they could experience some of the worst storm surges from Isaac.
So far 24 people have died as a result of Isaac in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, however, the precise nature of the damage and any injuries and fatalities in the United States will only be able to be assessed much later once the storm has passed.