Isaac causes floods en route to Midwest

Jack Healy and Bret Schulte / New York Times News Service /

Published Sep 1, 2012 at 05:00AM

ST. LOUIS — As Gulf Coast residents confronted a waterlogged landscape of flooded homes and debris-covered streets Friday, tatters of what had been Hurricane Isaac blew toward the parched Midwest, dumping more than a foot of rain, causing isolated flash floods and leaving thousands of people without power.

Heavy rains overwhelmed drainage systems in parts of Arkansas, flooding roads and prompting some emergency rescues. But after a scorching summer, dry soil and low-flowing rivers and streams appeared to be absorbing much of the rain, officials said.

“We’ve been in a pretty bad drought, and a lot of this rain is being soaked up,” said Jayson Gosselin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Weldon Spring, Mo., near St. Louis. “The ground can take a lot of rain, that’s for sure.”

As the slow-moving storm curls its way northeast, emergency crews in Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois have been bracing for a weekend of heavy rains and lashing winds, sandbagging homes and businesses, and preparing to close roads. Meanwhile, officials canceled Labor Day fireworks shows and shooed other end-of-summer festivals indoors.

It was the messy denouement of a soaking storm that had poured as many as two feet of water across parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

On Friday, officials in Plaquemines Parish, La., announced they had found the bodies of a middle-aged man and woman in the kitchen of their flooded home.

As waters receded from some neighborhoods on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, officials were slowly restoring electricity to the thousands left without power after the storm felled transmission lines and damaged power substations. And crews began punching holes in the parish’s brimming back levees, a process that could take a week to complete.