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Isaac weakens, still dangerous

Rain continues to be heavy, possibly 7-14 inches

NEW ORLEANS | August 30, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac was slowly weakening over the central part of Louisiana, U.S. forecasters said, as thousands evacuated Thursday in some parts of the state.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 11 a.m. EDT advisory the weakening storm was still producing heavy rains, severe weather and high water levels along the northern Gulf Coast.

The center of the storm was about 50 miles south of Monroe, La., with sustained winds of 40 mph. Isaac was moving north-northwest at 9 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect from Morgan City, La., to the Mississippi-Alabama line, including Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. Forecasters said a storm surge of nearly 6 feet was occurring on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and a surge of nearly 5 feet was occurring at Waveland, Miss.

National Weather Service meteorologist Danielle Manning said Thursday the Baton Rouge area "is out of the worst of it and is seeing the light at the end of a very short tunnel." Manning said the area will likely remain under a tropical storm warning until Isaac weakens to tropical-depression strength, probably Thursday evening, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reported.

A flash flood watch is to remain in effect until 7 p.m. for southeast Louisiana. Officials in Ascension Parish said they were preparing for flooding from the Amite River this weekend.

At least 14 people were arrested overnight in East Baton Rouge Parish for violating an overnight curfew, the newspaper said.

In the aftermath of the storm, Olde Towne Slidell, La., was covered in thigh-deep water, and officials were conducting rescues of people trapped in their homes, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.

Sgt. Robert Crowell, a reserve officer with Slidell police, told The Times-Picayune it was unclear how many might need help, but when officers see people on porches, they ask them whether they want to be evacuated.

St. John the Baptist Parish officials said more than 3,200 people had been rescued or evacuated in neighborhoods flooded by a tidal surge from Lake Pontchartrain Wednesday, The Times-Picayune reported.

In Washington Parish, along the Mississippi state line, police went door to door to warn residents of possible flooding from the Bogue Chitto River, which was expected to rise 14 feet overnight.

Curfews were in place from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

About 840,000 people were without power in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas.

Rain was expected to continue to be heavy, with Isaac dropping an average 7 to 14 inches.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at least one person may have died as a result of Isaac, which hit the Gulf Coast on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The center of Isaac bypassed New Orleans but hit Plaquemines Parish south of the city on the flood protection system that protected New Orleans.

The locally built gulf-side levee of Plaquemines Parish was overtopped by Isaac's massive surge, deluging the area with as much as 14 feet of water, officials said.

Dozens of people had to be pulled to safety by rescue workers and neighbors. Officials went door to door early Thursday to evacuate additional people as the water crept up the west bank.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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