NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Isaac pushed water over a rural levee to flood some homes, knocked out power and immersed beach-front roads in Louisiana and Mississippi early Wednesday as it began a drenching slog inland from the Gulf of Mexico with a newly fortified New Orleans in its path.
Wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour and sheets of rain pelted New Orleans, where people braced themselves for the storm behind levees that were strengthened after the much stronger Hurricane Katrina hit seven years ago to the day.
Isaac's dangerous storm surges and flooding threats from heavy rain were expected to last all day and into the night as it crawls over Louisiana, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.
Water driven by the large and powerful storm pushed over the top of an 18-mile stretch of one levee in Plaquemines Parish south of New Orleans, flooding some homes in a thinly populated area. The levee is one of many across the low-lying coastal zone and not part of New Orleans' defenses.
As the rain continued and winds pushed across the Gulf Coast, it remained far too soon to determine the full extent of the damage.
Authorities in Plaquemines Parish believe some people may be trapped but were not sure how many may have remained despite an earlier evacuation order. Rescuers were waiting for the strong winds to die down later in the day before moving out to search.
"We did have two parish police officers that were stuck in a car there. We just found out they were rescued and are safe," said emergency management spokeswoman Caitlin Campbell. Two other parish workers in a boat rescued them.
Isaac was packing 80 mph winds, making it a Category 1 hurricane. It came ashore at 7:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday near the mouth of the Mississippi River, driving a wall of water nearly 11 feet high and soaking a neck of land that stretches into the Gulf.