Isaac update: evacuations continue, how GJ can help

By: KKCO and Associated Press Email
By: KKCO and Associated Press Email

Isaac dropped unrelenting rain Thursday, flooding areas north and south of New Orleans, and officials had to scramble to evacuate and rescue people as waters quickly rose. Inside the city, the fortified defenses held and life began to slowly get back to some sort of normalcy.

Along the shores of Lake Ponchartrain near New Orleans, officials sent scores of buses and dozens of high-water vehicles to help evacuate about 3,000 people as rising waters lapped against houses and left cars stranded. Floodwaters rose waist-high in some neighborhoods, and the Louisiana National Guard was working with sheriff's deputies to rescue people stranded in their homes.

Even as Isaac weakened on its slow trek inland, it continued to spin off life-threatening weather including storm surges, inland flooding from torrential rain and potential tornadoes. Nearly half of Louisiana electrical customers lost power and another 150,000 were out in neighboring Mississippi.

The Grand Junction Salvation Army has heard dozens of requests from Mesa County residents, asking how they can help. Public relations director Claudia Jackson suggests giving monetary donations instead of food or supplies.

"The problem with [food and supplies] is transportation in getting it there. With the roads being all torn up and everything, it is easier if we just have monetary donations and bring it in bigger bulk and do better that way," said Jackson.

Instead, if you give money, the Salvation Army chapters near the hurricane sites will purchase what is needed for victims.

"The money would go towards food, water, shelter if we have to put them in a shelter like a hotel or something. As far as transporting clothing and that sort of thing, that will all be taken care of by our store there. To ship those sort of things is just cost prohibitive," said Jackson.

You can make a donation through the Salvation Army website or by visiting any Salvation Army thrift store. Donations can be made specifically for Hurricane Isaac relief.

The devastation continues

In other hurricane news, a tow truck driver was killed Thursday morning when a tree fell on his truck in Picayune, Miss., just across the state line from Louisiana. Authorities said Isaac was causing heavy rain and strong winds at the time.

President Barack Obama declared federal emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi late Wednesday, allowing federal aid to be freed up for affected areas.

Louisiana's Public Service Commission said 901,000 homes and businesses around the state -- about 47 percent of all customers -- were without power Thursday. Utility company Entergy said that included about 157,000 in New Orleans.

New Orleans' biggest problems seemed to be downed power lines, scattered tree limbs and minor flooding. One person was reported killed, compared with 1,800 deaths from Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. And police reported few problems with looting. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

By midafternoon Wednesday, Isaac had been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Isaac's maximum sustained winds had decreased to 45 mph and the National Hurricane Center said it was expected to become a tropical depression by Thursday night, meaning its top sustained winds would drop below 39 mph. The storm's center was on track to cross Arkansas on Friday and southern Missouri on Friday night, spreading rain as it goes.

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