Tidal surges from Tropical Storm Lee test Louisiana

Sep 4, 2011, 9:29 a.m.
A Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image taken from NASA’s Terra satellite shows Tropical Storm Lee extending from the Yucatan Peninsula across the Gulf of Mexico and over southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama September 2, 2011. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

Water levels in the lake are running as much as three feet above normal, and with southerly winds gusting as high as 50 miles per hour, water has lapped over the seawall and flooded the Mandeville Lakefront.

The surge into Lake Pontchartrain has backed up water in all the streams that flow into the lake, causing flooding in businesses along the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville, among other spots.

Tides and rain are also taking a toll in St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans. Parish President Craig Taffaro said roads in the area of Delacroix and Hopedale are flooding periodically as rain bands pass through.

"For the most part we're managing pretty well," he said. "The problem is, the cumulative rainfall is mounting and the area is becoming saturated."

Taffaro said some trees have fallen as their roots loosened. And he worries that residents may begin to roam about when they shouldn't leave shelter.

"People are going to eventually get tired of sitting in their own homes and will want to venture out. We're hoping that is not coupled with some of these heavier bands that can bring street flooding in a matter of minutes," he said.

New Orleans was devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, which flooded 80 percent of the city, killed 1,500 people and caused more than $80 billion in damage. Half of the city is below sea level, protected by levees and flood gates.

(Editing by Karen Brooks and Greg McCune)

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