Even At Category 1, Isacc Packs A Punch

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Hurricane Isacc made landfall in Louisiana Tuesday night, and is battering the Gulf Coast with high winds and a lot of rain. The storm is moving very slowly, and New Orleans has yet to see the worst of the winds.


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm David Greene. Hurricane Isaac made landfall last night in Louisiana and it is battering the Gulf Coast with high winds and a lot of rain. For the latest we turn to NPR's Greg Allen. He's in New Orleans and we have reached him by telephone. And Greg, give us a sense of this storm. It sounds like, you know, Category 1, which, you know, makes you not worry so much, but a lot of people fearing that it could just stay in one place for a good while.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Right. And Category 1 might not sound like much when you're not in the middle of it, but it does carry quite a punch here. It's - Isaac, you know, came ashore last night and it just sat over the area here for quite - a good part of the early morning hours. Now it's moving just about six miles per hour, moving slowly over New Orleans. We're seeing winds up to 80 miles per hour.

Here in the city they're getting winds up to like 50 miles per hour or so. We haven't even seen the worse of the winds. Lots of rain. It's really coming down. We've got about a half a million people without power. And that's still not done. This storm is going to be going over us for most of the day here, so that's what we're all watching.

GREENE: And you say a half a million people without power. I suppose that's not just the city of New Orleans. We're seeing the affects of this storm far outside the city. What are you learning so far about the impact, about evacuations, and about what people are seeing elsewhere?

ALLEN: Well, of course New Orleans itself was not under an evacuation order and the levees appear to be doing very well here. The pumps are keeping up with the rainfall at this point. So we have no reports yet of flooding within New Orleans. There's worry about a coastal surge, storm surge down on the coast along Louisiana, Mississippi and even Alabama.

In Barataria Bay down here, they're watching closely, 'cause that could lead to severe flooding if the storm surge gets too high down there. The real concern right now, and actually some search and rescue operations are going on in Plaquemines Parish, south - I guess that would be Southeast of New Orleans, where one local levee overtopped, and we're still getting reports on what's going on down there.

So that's the biggest concern right now, is making sure those folks are safe.

GREENE: And how long do we expect this storm to last? I mean if you say it could sit for a while. I mean we're talking about rain for hours, days?

ALLEN: Oh yeah, yes. It's going to rain. It's going to rain all day today. I mean we'll see over 24 hours of rain here, and then it's moving northwest. At this point they think it's going to turn to the Northeast and head toward Arkansas. It won't get up there though until Friday, they're saying. So we've got quite a bit of Isaac to go through over the next several hours.

GREENE: Alright, try to stay dry. Thanks. NPR's Greg Allen.

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