New Orleans Cheerful as Isaac Moves North

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – The Big Easy breathed easier Thursday, though more than 400,000 homes were still dark – 75 percent of the metro area – as power was restored to 9,000 homes ravaged by Hurricane Isaac.
     Electricity was restored Thursday to 62,000 homes in four Louisiana parishes surrounding New Orleans. Parishes are Louisiana’s equivalent of counties.
     Despite the lack of power – or perhaps because lack of power was New Orleanians’ pressing concern – a cheerful mood prevailed Thursday. Residents raked up hurricane debris, restaurants opened doors, grocers restocked shelves and gasoline pumps began to flow again.
     The situation was grimmer in suburbs farther from the city, where Isaac did its most severe damages.
     Emergency workers evacuated thousands of residents from suburban areas that do not typically flood.
     More than 3,500 people were rescued from LaPlace, in St. John the Baptist Parish after a storm surge from Lake Pontchartrain caused unprecedented flooding.
     Fear of contamination caused the water system to be shut down. Ninety-five percent of LaPlace residents were still without electricity Thursday evening.
     Residents along a locally run levee system in rural Plaquemines Parish, on the other side of New Orleans, also were rescued from massive flooding. A hole was drilled into the levee on Thursday to let floodwaters drain back into the Mississippi River.
     On another side of New Orleans, in Tangipahoa Parish, officials worried about the fate of 50,000 residents if a damn on Tangipahoa Lake in Mississippi fails, causing the Tangipahoa River to flood.
     Louisiana officials around noon Thursday ordered residents within a mile of the river to evacuate within 90 minutes in case efforts to drain the lake in Mississippi failed.
     Later in the afternoon, the mandatory evacuation was modified to affect only residents living within half a mile of the river.
     If efforts to drain water from the lake are successful, the river should not flood.
     Farmers in the parched Midwest are expecting relief from record drought, as Hurricane Isaac meanders north.

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