President Obama Continues his road to Charlotte tour today with a campaign stop in Virginia. Yesterday, he visited the New Orleans area to see some of the damage that was done by hurricane Isaac.
Most of the city's residents have regained power since that category 1 storm hit last week. More than 2,000 people, though, are still in shelters, because of flooding across coastal Louisiana. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu met with the president Monday, and he explains updates Soledad on "Starting Point" on the latest in the cleanup efforts.
"First of all, 97% of the power is restored, and we expect to get the other 3% up really, really soon," Mayor Landrieu says. "In New Orleans proper, we're doing fine. I think the big story is, number one, President Obama's team has really been fantastic. The White House has been involved from day one. Secretary Napolitano has been on it, Craig Fugate. And the cooperation between the federal state and the local agencies have been really good this time. And the levees held, which is the big story, I think, nationally. The floodgates held as they were designed. And that's been a good part of the story."
Landrieu did say there was some unexpected flooding in Plaquemines Parish ant St. John the Baptist Parish, but he says "every one of these storms brings something that you didn't expect."
Landrieu also says funding infrastructure projects and response efforts is critical to recovering from these kinds of weather events.
"We should never leave anybody behind in a storm or any catastrophic event, no matter where it is in the country. And so, it's really important that emergency funding is there all of the time. And that you don't have to go back into Congress to get appropriations during the middle of storms or in the middle of catastrophic events. That's a bad idea. But the bigger point here is whether or not Congress is going to spend the money necessary to build the infrastructure that protects these areas since you don't have an emergency," Mayor Landrieu says.
"Our request to Congress is to get off the dime and to invest and make America strong again so that we can protect ourselves," he says.
La. National Guard Lt. Col. Mike Kazmierzak on evacuation efforts in St. John the Baptist Parish after hurricane Isaac.
The Delgadillo family of Braithwaite, Louisiana explain how they were rescued from their attic by their neighbors after the levees were overtopped.
Lots of areas on the Gulf Coast were hit hard as Hurricane Issac made its way over land yesterday. Plaquemines Parish was one of the hardest hit, with at least four levees overtopped. The resulting was so widespread that people who did not heed the mandatory evacuation were ordered to their roofs and in some cases out of their windows. At least 100 people had to be rescued from here yesterday.
Parish president Billy Nungesser talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" this morning with an update on the flooding and the number of people who need to pull out of homes.
"Last night we believed they got everyone out but at first light this morning the sheriff's office and the National Guard will be going house to house to make sure they got everyone," he says. "We also are going to start an effort this morning on West Bank. Late yesterday I tried to get up highway 23 and the water was rushing up high over 23 so fast that a herd of cattle and deer were running to get out of the flood waters."
Nungesser also explains the plans to move the flood waters from the parish.
"We're going to breach the back levees as this wind dies down this morning. We're going down at first light by air boat on the West Bank, and as the wind dies down and the levees become visible through the water, we're going to strategically cut those levees and break those levees so the water can move out quickly. We're going to do that on the East and West Bank," he says.
New Orleans resident Jackie Grosch reports on how her family is riding out Hurricane Isaac at home.
Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser on flooding due to an overtopping levee during Hurricane Isaac that left two stranded.
Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led the military relief effort for Hurricane Katrina, weighs in on the latest the damage from Hurricane Isaac.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La) on the flooding in Plaquemines Parish due to hurricane Isaac, evacuations and an overtopped levee.
Despite making landfall twice in the overnight hours, Hurricane Isaac is a very slow moving storm. National Hurricane Center's Richard Knabb tells Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning that Hurricane Isaac's fierce winds and rainfall is far from over.
"For many people it's not even half over," Knabb says. "You're not seeing the center pass by you yet and once it does, you still have the southern half of the circulation to go. And this really slow motion overnight has really pointed out how long a duration this is going to be. It's still only moving at six miles per hour. So it is the large size and the slow motion that makes this category 1 hurricane seem worse than the category would tell you because the category only reflects the maximum sustained wind and for this one it's 80 miles per hour."
"But the rainfall, the storm surge and duration of the winds and duration of the rains, all of these things are not captured by the category. And for many people it's going to be all day today and into tonight and into tomorrow that the rains and the onshore flow causing the storm surge are going to persist," Knabb adds.
Editor's note: This post has been updated, after it was originally written prior to hurricane Isaac's landfall in New Orleans. Watch "Starting Point" at 7am on CNN for the latest on Isaac's track.
By "Starting Point" anchor Soledad O'Brien
The concrete is so clean on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal/Surge Barrier that it looks like they poured it yesterday. But the roiling clouds above it made it clear why it's completion in May was critical. It's about to face its first test.
They call it "the wall." It's a two mile stretch of concrete that's designed to keep the waters from the Gulf of Mexico from flooding into Lake Borgne then inundating New Orleans neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward. A surge that took that same path destroyed homes and left a trail of dead during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
This massive post-Katrina effort by the Army Corps of Engineers with three 150' gates began in 2009. On Tuesday, the two doors were closed for the first time in anticipation of Hurricane Isaac.
"Last time the surge went into Lake Bourne and into the heart of the city," Col. Edward Fleming of the US Army Corps of Engineers tells me. "This wall is built to 26 feet high and we expect to see surge 8 to 10, maybe 15 feet."