August 31, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac Batters Gulf Coast


Residents of the Gulf Coast hunkered down overnight as Tropical Storm Isaac hit the shores of Louisiana and Mississippi, causing surges of up to 15 feet of water. Ray Suarez talks to Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, about how the slow-moving tropical storm may affect some areas worse than Hurricane Katrina.

Watch Isaac Downgraded, Still Batters Gulf with Wind and Downpours on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


JUDY WOODRUFF:  Hurricane Isaac weakened today to a tropical storm, but that was little comfort to the people of Louisiana.  The system spent a long day battering the state, after moving ashore last night.  It forced a curfew in New Orleans and new evacuations outside the city.

RAY SUAREZ:  Hour after hour, the storm slowly plodded inland. Heavy winds and lashing rains radiated hundreds of miles from the eye, and up to 20 inches of rain was forecast in some places. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued a new warning this afternoon in Baton Rouge.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), Louisiana:  We ask people to use their common sense, exercise caution.  If you are somewhere in an impacted parish where you are safe, we recommend you stay there.  If you do not need to, do not travel on these roads, especially with these gusts, these strong winds, as well as the chance for localized flooding.

RAY SUAREZ:  The storm pushed massive amounts of water into lowlands of the central Gulf Coast, with surges up to 15 feet across the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines.  The full force began arriving last night, but it was felt most today, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.

In New Orleans, some Katrina veterans said the far weaker Isaac still packed a wallop.

GARY KING, Progressive Guitar Shop:  This is the second time we get hit really hard, because the first time with Katrina we lost everything.  My instruments were actually floating down the road.  We have hunkered down from last night and we’re just hoping for the best.

RAY SUAREZ:  There were scattered reports of looting, prompting Mayor Mitch Landrieu to impose the overnight curfew.  But the city seemed the avoid the worst, as the $14.5 billion levee system, rebuilt after Katrina, held its own.

MAJ. GEN. JOHN PEABODY, Army Corps of Engineers:  The Corps has been preparing for an event like this or almost like this for seven years.  And we’re finding that the system that we built, the hurricane storm damage reduction system in New Orleans, is functioning as designed.

Read Entire Transcript Here