Sunday, April 21, 2024

New flooding threat for New Orleans


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Slidell, Louisiana (CNN) — A rain-swollen river threatened to flood hundreds of homes in one southeastern Louisiana parish Sunday as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac drifted across the Southeast.
Mandatory evacuations were issued Saturday night for portions of Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish, along the Mississippi state line, where the Pearl River threatened to flood hundreds of homes. The most pressing issue was the potential failure of a lock on a man-made canal that juts off the river, where authorities began releasing water Saturday to relieve pressure on the structure.
“We have a list of 20 to 25 neighborhoods that it could affect,” parish President Pat Brister said Sunday. “I don’t have a number of people at this current point and time, but it would affect several neighborhoods.”
Brister said the water level has been reduced “tremendously” since Saturday night, and “We feel a lot better.” But she added, “We will have a clear or at least low, low danger before we ask those people to go back home.”
Forecasters project the Pearl to crest Monday at 19.5 feet, more than five feet above flood stage. That will result in “major flooding” of at least two subdivisions near the banks and threaten areas in the southeastern corner of the parish, according to the National Weather Service.
The remnants of Isaac, meanwhile, moved to the northeast on Sunday after scattering much-needed rain on parts of the lower Midwest. But the system skirted most of the Midwestern and Plains states, where this year’s drought is the worst.
“Certainly, it helped some locations in our far eastern counties in Oklahoma, but there was very little beneficial rain,” said Pete Snyder, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Tulsa.
Nearly all of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas fall under the worst two drought categories. Isaac dumped heavy rain across southern Arkansas last week, with some flooding reported around Little Rock and Pine Bluff. But the northwestern city of Fayetteville, which is nearly 11 inches below its normal rainfall totals for the year, got just over an inch, Snyder said.
Flood warnings remained posted for parts of two northeastern Arkansas counties along the Cache River on Sunday. Parts of Missouri and Illinois saw up to six inches of rain Saturday, and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning early Sunday for portions of Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as the central Appalachian Mountains.
Isaac is blamed for at least 19 deaths in Haiti and at least four more in Louisiana and Mississippi after making landfall last week as a Category 1 hurricane — on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The storm posed the first real test to New Orleans following a $14.5 billion federal effort to reconstruct the city’s flood control system after it failed during Katrina in 2005. Katrina killed nearly 1,800 people, most when the storm overwhelmed the levee system and flooded the city.

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