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Isaac: Louisiana And Mississippi Order Evacuations Over Dam Failure Concerns

 
A motorist drives through a flooded street as waves ahead of Isaac break over the road way  Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, in Bay St. Louis, Miss. 
 
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
  A motorist drives through a flooded street as waves ahead of Isaac break over the road way  Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, in Bay St. Louis, Miss.   

The Latest At 1:10 p.m. ET.:

-- Louisiana has ordered a mandatory evacuation along the Tangipahoa River from Kentwood to Robert, La. because a dam at Percy Quin State Park in southern Mississippi is in eminent danger of failing. That area is home to about 50,000 to 60,000 people.

Mississippi has also called for the evacuation of areas along the Tangipahoa River, south of the dam.

During a news conference, La. Gov. Bobby Jindal said if this dam breaks, "it could rival the floods of record, which are 1983 and 1990 in Tangipahoa."

-- In the Gulf Coast, Jindal said officials would intentionally puncture the levee in Plaquemines Parish, La. this afternoon.

-- Authorities have rescued about 80 people from high water in Slidell, La., a subdivision on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain.

-- In its latest advisory, the National Hurricane Center says Isaac now has winds of 40 mph and while there is still a great deal of causing floods, it has picked up some speed. It is now moving north at 9 mph.

Our Original Post Continues:

Isaac left a lot of heartbreak along the Gulf Coast on Thursday, as it pounded areas with more than a foot of rain and hurricane force winds for hours upon hours.

According to CNN, close to a million people are without power this morning across Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. The hardest hit area is Plaquemines Parish, a thin strip of land that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico.

The west side of the parish was under a mandatory evacuation, but those who stayed were faced with quickly-rising water and had to find refuge in attics and on roofs.

As The New York Times reports, the images were clear reminders of Katrina, the monster storm that ravaged the area exactly seven years ago yesterday. Luckily, for residents of New Orleans this was no repeat of 2005. The Times reports:

"In New Orleans, the decision by most residents to stay did not turn out to be disastrous. Trees were down across the city, and streets flooded, and three-quarters of the city was without power, as it will be for several days for more than 600,000 across the state, until the wind dies down enough for utility workers to come in. But despite a few nervous moments, the city's all but finished $14.5 billion flood protection system seems to have worked."

We'll keep this post updated throughout the day, because Isaac is still a tropical storm and still has the potential to cause havoc. Make sure to click your refresh button to see the latest.

Update at 2:01 p.m. ET. Not Sure What Effect Break Could Have:

Kavanaugh Breazeale, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells our Newscast unit, that they are assessing the situation in Mississippi.

"If a dam breaks there's always some type of danger that it may affect some types of dwellings, certain houses in the area," he said. "I'm not sure at this time, if it were to breech what would be the effect. It is in a rural part of Mississippi.

"What may happen ... is the rivers could swell downstream into the state Louisiana and it could affect the residents there."

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. In Slidell, Rescues Ongoing:

The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports that authorities are rescuing people from high water in Slidell, La., a subdivision on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain.

By noon eastern, the paper says National Guard troops and local officers had rescued about 80 people.

The paper adds:

"Shortly before 8 a.m., police fetched Rebecca Bass and two of her children, Jennifer, 7, and Jacob, 1, from their house on Cardy Street in the Salmen Addition subdivision, which is surrounded by water about 3 feet deep. They called for help early this morning.

"Rebecca clutched Jacob to her breast while a shivering and scared Jennifer, barefoot, went to the front of the truck and started to cry.

"'I go to Brock Elementary,' she said. 'But it's ruined now.'"

Update at 1:01 p.m. ET. If Dam Breaks Floods Could Break Records:

The Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is live tweeting La. Gov. Bobby Jindal's press conference.

They report Jindal said if this dam break, "it could rival the floods of record, which are 1983 and 1990 in Tangipahoa."

The add:

"Gov @BobbyJindal: Mississippi is considering a controlled breach of dam. If they do that, they don't estimate a water impact in LA."

Update at 12:48 p.m. ET. In Plaquemines Levee Will Be Intentionally Breeched:

The AP reports:

"In Plaquemines Parish, a sparsely populated area south of the city that is outside the improved federal levee system, dozens of people were stranded in flooded coastal areas and had to be rescued. The storm pushed water over an 18-mile (29-kilometer) levee and put so much pressure on it that authorities planned to intentionally puncture the floodwall to relieve the strain."

During a newsconference Gov. Bobby Jindal said that intentional puncture would happen between 2 and 3 p.m. today.

Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. Tens Of Thousands:

Tangipahoa Parish President tells WWLTV that Louisiana has ordered a mandatory evacuation along the Tangipahoa River from Kentwood to Robert, La. That area is home to about 50,000 to 60,000 people.

"Gov. Bobby Jindal has agreed to send over busses to help with the evacuation," reports WWLTV.

The National Weather Service tweeted that Mississippi had ordered an evacuation along the river, below the dam. That includes most of Pike County, Miss.

Update at 11:47 a.m. ET. Imminent Dam Failure Causes Evacuation:

The National Weather Service in New Orleans says that local emergency officials in Southwestern Pike County in Southern Mississippi are ordering the evacuation of thousands, because the Lake Tangipahoa Dam is expected to fail.

The Weather Service reports:

"Water level rises are expected to be near 8 feet below the dam to 6 feet at Osyka."

Osyka is right on the border of Louisiana, which has also ordered evacuations along the Tangipahoa River.

Update at 10:47 a.m. ET. Winds Decreasing:

In its 11 a.m. advisory, the National Hurricane Center says Isaac now has winds of 40 mph and while the flood risk is still there, it has picked up some speed. It is now moving north at 9 mph.

Update at 8:08 a.m. ET. Flooding North Of New Orleans:

On Morning Edition, NPR's Greg Allen says that some communities to the north of New Orleans have seen significant flooding.

Some of the rivers north of Lake Pontchartrain have also swelled and will have a tough time draining "quickly because the lake is so high."

Greg says with more rain on its way we could see more flooding in the northern Gulf Coast.

Update at 7:54 a.m. ET. Still Hazardous:

In its latest advisory, the National Hurricane Center reports that despite the fact that winds are down to 45 mph, Isaac is still a dangerous storm.

In fact, when it is downgraded to a tropical depression later on today, it will still have the potential to produce "life-threatening hazards from storm surge, inland flooding and tornadoes."

Another thing to keep in mind is that the storm will affect a huge area. The center predicts it will dump seven to 14 inches of rain across much of Louisiana, Mississippi, southwest Alabama and Arkansas.

"These rains could result in significant lowland flooding," the Hurricane Center reports.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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