(Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Tens of thousands of people are powerless and thousands remain in emergency shelters nearly a week after Hurricane Isaac swamped the Gulf Coast with a deluge. President Barack Obama met victims on Monday while officials assessed the damage which might cost over $2 billion.
The fading remnants of Isaac have moved east but about 125,000 people were still without power and at least 2,600 people remained in emergency shelters due to floodwaters in Louisiana on Monday.
The National Weather Service has warned that scattered thunderstorms this week might cause frequent lightning and heavy downpours in southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
Heat index values are likely to range between 100 and 105 degrees, possibly higher in some locations, putting at risk especially those without power. "We need everyone to take their risk of heat stroke seriously," said Bruce D. Greenstein, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals secretary. "This is a serious condition that can kill you."
The Pearl River, along the Mississippi state line, was reported to have reached over 5 feet above the flood mark on Tuesday, prompting authorities to warn people to keep away from the area, CNN reported. More flood warnings were in effect Tuesday for parts of the Mississippi coast, where rivers north of Pascagoula and Gulfport were running high.
Obama visited St. John the Baptist Parish, which bore the brunt of Isaac, and met federal, state and local officials on Monday, a day ahead of the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. He also met residents and heard their stories. "There has been enormous devastation in St. John's Parish," said the president, who was preceded by GOP challenger Mitt Romney who surveyed damaged areas last Friday, a day after the Republican National Convention concluded in Florida.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's office said the Louisiana National Guard in St. Tammany Parish had 253 members ready to assist with security and evacuations near the Pearl River with 22 high-water vehicles, 23 Humvees and 21 boat teams.
Inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA were assessing the damage. Residents of nine Louisiana parishes with heavy damage have been approved to apply for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and to cover uninsured property losses from the storm.
According to disaster modeler AIR Worldwide, Isaac may have caused up to $2 billion in insured onshore losses.
Meanwhile, oil operations that had been interrupted along the Gulf Coast were coming back on line, according to Reuters.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief feeding units were serving 225,000 meals a day in Louisiana and Mississippi, according to Baptist Press.
"I think this truly shows what the Great Commission is all about as far as reaching out to our own communities in our area," said Tom Long, the southeast region coordinator for Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief. "Then the support we have as Southern Baptists from all across our convention, the gathering together of our workers and teams, has been tremendous. No matter what kind of problem may come up, we're able to respond and respond quickly."
Isaac came exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina, which left at least 1,836 people dead.