New Orleans mayor on Isaac: We're in "hunker-down phase"

(CBS News) Seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit, another hurricane is pounding New Orleans.

Isaac hit the Louisiana coast last night with winds at 80 miles per hour. The slow-moving storm is bringing heavy rain across a wide area. Tornado warnings are up from southern Louisiana to Alabama. More than 400,000 people have lost power in Louisiana alone.

Isaac heading slowly toward New Orleans

Flooding is reported along the Mississippi coast, and officials say water has spilled over one levee southeast of New Orleans. Police are going door-to-door in at least one neighborhood seeking out people who declined the evacuation order.

Overnight, as Hurricane Isaac dumped more than an inch of rain every hour, many people in New Orleans heeded Mayor Mitch Landrieu's warning. Landrieu said, "We're in the heart of this fight. We're in the hunker-down phase."

CBS News rode with National Guard troops who, along with the New Orleans police, patrolled the mostly empty streets. A major problem facing residents? More than 400,000 people are without power across Louisiana. Many will be without power until at least Thursday.

Home video captured power lines popping in the storm. Low-lying communities south of New Orleans, such as Plaquimines Parish, got the worst of it.

Parish President Billy Nungesser called into CBS affiliate station WWL-TV, saying, "When this is over I think we need to check wind speeds. Because I lost a good portion of my roof and my fence is down and water is blowing through the sockets in my house from the back wall. That only happened in Katrina."

Hurricane Isaac first made landfall in Louisiana just before 7 p.m. Central Time. Roads looked like lakes, lakes looked like oceans, and before sunset, the curious and the carefree lined the wild waterfronts.

But as night fell, and the 80-mile-per-hour winds and rain increased, safety became the city's biggest concern.

National Guard Capt. Mark Castillon said, "It's a storm. It's a danger. We'll be responsive and we'll wait for this thing to pass and we'll be ready tomorrow morning."

Authorities will not be able to make a widespread damage assessment until the wind dies down.

For more on this story, watch Byron Pitts' full report in the video above.

  • Byron Pitts

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