Hurricane Isaac: New Orleans withstanding storm with levees – and levity (+video)
Seven years after New Orleans suffered catastrophic flood damage from hurricane Katrina, 'rude' Isaac is causing widespread power failures and downed trees, but the new levees are holding.
The seventh anniversary of hurricane Katrina dawned Wednesday to find New Orleans and the rest of southeastern Louisiana once again swept by hurricane winds, raked by heavy rain, and coastal areas swamped by storm surge.
This time, hurricane Isaac is the culprit. Its large size and slow pace continue to hold the region hostage to heavy flooding and are expected to do so throughout the rest of the week.
With wry hurricane humor, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a radio interview Wednesday morning that Isaac "has no personality, no sense of humor. It's just rude."
But for New Orleans in particular, the effects so far are markedly different than seven years ago. The storm's path to the west of the city and its status as a low-end hurricane, with maximum sustained winds now at 75 miles an hour have played a key role, although emergency officials remain wary of Isaac's continued high rainfall rates and lethargic pace.
But Mayor Landrieu also credits efforts the US Army Corps of Engineers has made to upgrade the city's flood defenses since Katrina. More work remains to be done on the nearly $15 billion project. But so far, "the federal levee system is working just fine," as are the city's complement of flood-control pumps.
In Plaquemines Parish, however, floodwaters have risen behind a section of Mississippi River levee 8 miles southeast of downtown New Orleans, sending some residents into attics to escape the rising water and others onto a ferry landing that extends from the levee top.