Hurricane Isaac continued to pound the Gulf Coast with high winds and heavy rains Wednesday, knocking out power to thousands. Residents say the storm is far worse anyone would have imagined.
Floodwaters in Plaquemines Parish overran an 18-mile stretch of one levee. The parish is located in a low-lying coastal area just south of New Orleans.
"I was shocked," parish president Billy Nungesser said. "We rode out Katrina. And that's what we saw in Katrina. I think we're going to have more damage from this storm than Katrina. This is not a Category 1. This storm has been relentless."
"The water is almost over my head," one parish resident said. "It is horrible. Everybody's home is gone. Nobody has a house in Braithwaite. Nobody."
Many people, including two police officers, had to be rescued this morning after floodwaters rose in the parish.
"We did have two parish police officers who were stuck in a car there. We just found out they were rescued and are safe," emergency management spokeswoman Caitlin Campbell said.
"I think a lot of people were caught with their pants down," Jerry Larpenter, sheriff in nearby Terrebonne Parish, said. "This storm was never predicted right since it entered the Gulf. It was supposed to go to Florida, Panama City, Biloxi, New Orleans. We hope it loses its punch once it comes in all the way."
Meanwhile, the strong new system of levees has not been breached. The storm is moving slowly, allowing water to build up and increasing concerns about flooding.
"The system is performing as intended, as we expected," Army Corps spokeswoman Rachel Rodi said. "We don't see any issues with the hurricane system at this point."
Waiting Out Isaac
It was a long and uncomfortable Tuesday for New Orleans residents, who loaded up, boarded up, and then waited out Hurricane Isaac.
"I thought I had to leave because I was going to Alabama with my cousins, but I am going to wait it out," New Orleans resident Keith Williams told CBN News.
"I don't even (have) cable or Internet where I am," resident Margaret Albert said. "Every few hours, I check the track, read my book, do my art project, keeping busy."
"I don't think we will get flooded, but we will lose electricity," another resident Nick Bergeron said. "We will be without electricity for a few days, but we will have to put up with that."
For the most part Tuesday was quiet. But as day gave way to night on New Orleans River Walk, Hurricane Isaac began to flex its muscles with gusts of up to 70 miles an hour and blinding rain.
Strong winds topple signs, snapped trees, and sent debris flying into the trees. Thousand were soon left in the dark.
"The effects that we thought would come from a major storm are, in fact, taking place," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
"And again, to reiterate to the public it's a very serious matter," he warned. "And if we follow very carefully and we are safe, we ought to be able to protect life and we ought to be able to protect property."
Forecasters predict Isaac will hover over the crescent city for another day of strong winds and heavy rains.
"This storm is big and it's tightening up and it sat out there for 12 hours south of us and it's pushing that wave action in and there's nowhere for that water to go until it dissipates," Harrison County Emergency Operations Director Rupert Lacy said.