WASHINGTON — Much of Louisiana has more to endure Thursday from slow-moving Tropical Storm Isaac, the head of the National Hurricane Center warned Wednesday afternoon.
“For some folks in southern Louisiana, it is roughly about halfway through the event,” Director Rick Knabb said. “Stay indoors, off the road and wait for the storm to end.”
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said no formal assessments had been made, adding that his agency was still in “direct support” mode.
President Barack Obama, speaking at a campaign event Wednesday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va., said he was continually receiving Isaac updates and ensuring FEMA was responding. He asked everyone to pray for those affected on the Gulf Coast.
“We are going to make sure that we are doing every single thing that we need to do to ensure that the folks down there are taken care of and have the support and the love of the rest of this country,” Obama said.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who slept Tuesday night in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in New Orleans, joined Gov. Bobby Jindal in asking Obama and FEMA for 100 percent federal support, as opposed to the 75 percent support preliminarily approved Monday.
“Due to the serious nature of Hurricane Isaac and weather reports from around Louisiana, there is a clear and justified need for 100 percent federal funding for emergency protective measures for affected areas,” Vitter wrote Wednesday to Obama.
Obama approved the request late Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said New Orleans seemed to survive but bemoaned the major flooding in Plaquemines Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, lower Jefferson Parish and other areas that have not had as much infrastructure support since Hurricane Katrina.
“It just shows the importance of investments that need to be made for coastal protections,” Landrieu said.
In a prepared statement later in the day, Landrieu added, “It’s heartbreaking to watch people climb out of their attics and onto their roofs in search of safety. Hurricane Isaac has reinforced for us once again just how vulnerable these critical areas are. We must re-engage the Corps of Engineers on this. There are still too many areas without protection, and we have a lot of work left to do.”
Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Charley Shimanski said her agency was sheltering more than 5,000 people in six states, but mostly in Louisiana.
“This is a very long and protracted relief response that will last for quite a while, for several weeks,” Shimanski said.
U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm.Robert Parker said helicopters arrived Wednesday to assess Louisiana’s shorelines and to inspect evacuated oil rigs for any potential safety or environmental risks.