Monday, November 20, 2017

Days after Isaac, flooding and outages remain

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NEW ORLEANS — Much of Plaquemines Parish was still covered with floodwater Sunday and more than 200,000 people across Louisiana still didn't have any power, five days after Isaac ravaged the state. Thousands of evacuees remained at shelters or bunked with friends or relatives.

"My family is split up," said Angela Serpas, from flooded Braithwaite. Serpas and her daughter were staying with her in-laws while her husband and son were staying in Belle Chasse, a suburban area of the parish.

"This is the second time we've lost our home. We lost it in Katrina," she said.

At least seven people were killed in the storm — five in Louisiana and two in Mississippi.

President Barack Obama was to visit Louisiana today, a day ahead of the Democratic National Convention. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney visited the state Friday.

Progress was evident in many places. Workers continued their return to offshore oil and gas production platforms and drilling rigs, electricity came on for hundreds of thousands of people, and the annual Southern Decadence Festival, a gay pride celebration, carried on in the French Quarter.

There were also signs of a slow recovery. Workers continued to deal with toppled trees and downed power lines, driving remained hazardous in areas without working traffic lights, and New Orleans opened two cooling shelters so those with no electricity could escape the heat.

Much of Plaquemines Parish, a vulnerable finger of land that juts into the Gulf of Mexico southeast of New Orleans, remained under as much as 5 feet of water, parish President Billy Nungesser said. The Category 1 hurricane walloped the parish, and for many, the damage was worse than Katrina in 2005.

"I've never seen water come up this quick this fast," he said.

Suburban communities farther north also had problems. Near Lake Pontchartrain, St. Tammany Parish officials kept watch over potential trouble spots along Isaac-swollen waterways.

In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant reported 125,000 people were evacuated, though most returned home Sunday. Fewer than 100 people remained in shelters. Bryant said 924 people had to be rescued during Isaac.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met with Mississippi emergency officials and Bryant at a fire station in Bay St. Louis. She later visited Slidell, La.

Bay St. Louis was devastated by Katrina seven years ago, but this time it was protected from Isaac's surge by a new seawall.

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