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Rain persists as Isaac heads toward Arkansas, Missouri

Tropical Storm Isaac winds are dying but heavy rain continues over Louisiana, causing flooding. Isaac's rains may help drought-struck Midwestern states on Friday.

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Clean up begins outside the International House Hotel on Camp street in the French Quarter after the overnight curfew was lifted on August 30, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor

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Isaac's whistling winds lashed this city and the storm dumped nearly a foot of rain on its desolate streets, but the system of levee pumps, walls and gates appeared to withstand one of the stiffest challenges yet. To the north and south, though, people had to be evacuated or rescued as Isaac lingered over Louisiana.

The rain fell almost constantly for more than a day, flooding neighborhoods in a rural part of the state and in neighboring Mississippi. Officials had to respond quickly because the waters were rising fast — even as Isaac meandered slowly northward Thursday on a path toward Arkansas.

President Barack Obama declared federal emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi late Wednesday, allowing federal aid to be freed up for affected areas.

RECOMMENDED: Hurricane Isaac photos

Along the shores of Lake Ponchartrain, officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3,000 people as rising waters lapped against houses and left cars stranded. Floodwaters rose waist-high in some neighborhoods, and the Louisiana National Guard was working with sheriff's deputies to rescue people stranded in their homes.

Even as Isaac weakened on its slow trek inland, it continued to spin life-threatening weather including storm surges, inland flooding from torrential rain and potential tornadoes.

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