- Associated Press - Thursday, August 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — Isaac hovered over Louisiana for a third day Thursday, shedding more than a foot of additional rain that forced authorities to hurriedly evacuate areas ahead of the storm and rescue hundreds of people who could not escape as the rapidly rising waters swallowed entire neighborhoods.

The huge spiral weather system weakened to a tropical depression as it crawled inland, but it caught many places off guard by following a meandering, unpredictable path. The storm’s excruciatingly slow movement meant that Isaac practically parked over low-lying towns and threw off great sheets of water for hours.

“I was blindsided. Nobody expected this,” said Richard Musatchia, who fled his water-filled home in LaPlace, northwest of New Orleans.

Inside the fortified levees that protected New Orleans, bursts of sunshine streamed through the thick clouds, and life began to return to normal. But beyond the city, people got their first good look at Isaac’s damage: Hundreds of homes were underwater. Half the state was without power. Thousands were staying at shelters.

And the damage may not be done. Even more rain was expected in Louisiana before the storm finally drifts into Arkansas and Missouri.

Isaac dumped as much as 16 inches in some areas, and about 500 people had to be rescued by boat or high-water vehicles. At least two deaths were reported.

Five feet of water poured into Mr. Musatchia’s home before a neighbor passed by with a boat and evacuated him and his 6-year-old boxer, Renny.

He piled two suitcases, a backpack and a few smaller bags onto the boat and said that was all he had left. He abandoned a brand-new Cadillac and a Harley-Davidson.

“People have their generators, because they thought the power would go out, but no one expected” so much water, Mr. Musatchia said.

Other evacuees were picked up by National Guard vehicles, school buses and pickup trucks.

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