A dusk-till-dawn curfew has been imposed in New Orleans as Isaac, now downgraded to a tropical storm, moves inland. Meanwhile, Louisiana officials are preparing to cut a hole in a levee to prevent the floodwater from damaging the system.
In the hard-hit hit Plaquemines Parish, wind-driven water overtopped the local levee, raising concerns that the structure might not withstand the disaster. Governor Bobby Jindal said officials will cut the hole as soon as weather permits them to bring equipment to the site.
Hundreds of houses across Louisiana were damaged by the flood, while thousands of families suffer power outages.
Police and the National Guard are patrolling the empty streets of the port city, which are littered with debris. New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu announced that the authorities will have “zero tolerance for lawlessness during this emergency.”
A number of looting incidents in the city have been registered, New Orleans officials were quoted by local media as saying. Local police said arrests were made in each case.
Dozens of people across coastal Louisiana who ignored the evacuation order and are thus stranded by the floodwaters have been rescued by patrol boats. Meanwhile, more than 800,000 people across five states remain without power.
The federal levee system, which underwent major improvement over the past years, is “fine” and has managed to withstand the disaster, Landrieu said.
Isaac was downgraded to tropical storm status on Wednesday, as its sustained winds dropped to 70 miles per hour. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said before dawn Wednesday that Isaac's center was expected to pass over Louisiana today and tomorrow and on to neighboring Arkansas early Friday. It will weaken over the next two days as it passes over land.
The storm comes on the seventh anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, in which 1,800 people lost their lives. Most of them died when the levee system in New Orleans failed, and wild torrents swept the city. Since the disaster devastated the area, the levee system has been reconstructed with over $10 billion spent on rebuilding it.