NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of thousands of residents were without power early Wednesday as Hurricane Isaac continued to pound the Gulf Coast with high winds and torrential rains.
Emergency services officials in Plaquemines Parish said that water has spilled over the top of a miles-long stretch of the levee system, leaving 4-9 feet of water in some areas.
Several homes in along the levee also were inundated with water. The National Guard and local officials were trying to rescue several people trapped in their homes.
Wind gusts of 80 mph were reported in some neighborhoods around New Orleans while areas along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts were experiencing 50-60 mph winds.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm had been nearly stationary for several hours and seemed likely to move slowly over the next 24 hours, pushing water into New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and posing threat of flooding throughout the region.
Tornado warnings were issued for several areas along the coast.
Storm surge heights of 6-10 feet were reported in portions of southeast Louisiana and Mississippi and were expected to remain high through the day.
As many as 400,000 people were without power in Louisiana early Wednesday morning with widespread power outages also reported in Misssissippi and Alabama, the Weather Channel reported.
The hurricane center said the storm would begin losing power as the center moved inland — but more slowly than normal because it would be moving over flat, swampy areas for several hours.