Isaac nears New Orleans for Katrina anniversary

BY MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and STACEY PLAISANCE
View photos
A deserted Bourbon Street in the French Quarter is shown as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, in New Orleans. Hurricane Isaac made landfall south of New Orleans Tuesday night. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Isaac was beginning to move inland in southeast Louisiana before dawn Wednesday on a slow, drenching slog toward New Orleans seven years to the day after the much stronger Katrina hit the city.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Isaac remained a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds of 80 miles per hour but was expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it heads north over land. Isaac's center was forecast to pass over Louisiana for two days and head into southern Arkansas early Friday.

Isaac's winds and sheets of rain were whipping through nearly empty streets in New Orleans while in neighboring Mississippi the storm pushed Gulf water over sections of the main beachfront highway that runs the length of the state's shore.

Ryan Bernie, a spokesman for the city of New Orleans, said the storm had caused only some minor street flooding before dawn and felled trees but had left roughly 125,000 customers in the city without power.

In Mississippi, the main beachfront highway, U.S. 90, was closed in sections by storm surge flooding. At one spot in Biloxi, a foot of water covered the in-town highway for a couple of blocks and it looked like more was coming in. High tide around 9:30 a.m. was likely to bring up more water.

Isaac came ashore Tuesday night near the mouth of the Mississippi River, then went nearly stationary for several hours over the sparsely populated neck of land that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico. It was headed for New Orleans, 70 miles to the northwest, on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, moving at a sluggish 8 miles per hour.

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Cain Burdeau in New Orleans; Kevin McGill in Houma, La.; Holbrook Mohr in Waveland and Pass Christian, Miss.; Jeff Amy in Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss.; Jay Reeves in Gulf Shores, Ala.; Jessica Gresko in Codon, Ala.; and Curt Anderson at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.