Isaac caused isolated floods in Pembroke Pines and Lauderhill, but city officials reported Tuesday that those areas had largely drained.
In Pembroke Pines, public works crews spent Monday and Tuesday removing storm debris from street drainage grates, and cleaning up fallen trees and palm fronds. The city experienced some isolated street flooding from Isaac’s rains, said Shawn Denton, public works director, but “Not anything I would call significant flooding.’’
“It was random,” Denton said. “Some random streets where swales or drains got clogged, in some cases we had to shovel it out.”
Isaac’s projected landfall as Category 1 hurricane kept it well below the intensity of Katrina, but it was still a sprawling, slow-moving system capable of inundating a 300-mile wide swath from Louisiana marshes to the Panhandle beaches with a wall of sea water and drenching storms.
In a region bulldozed by hurricanes Katrina and Ivan in the past decade, the anxiety was growing. Pensacola Beach, a slender barrier island dotted with hotels, ice cream parlors and kitschy tourist attractions, was all but abandoned Monday after Escambia County ordered an evacuation.
Michelle Newell, 43, had lugged out furniture, boarded windows, raised her washing machine on bricks and surrounded her home with 160 sandbags — filled with sand swept onto the property by Ivan in 2004.
“I’ve done everything I can,” said Newell, sweat running down her face. “There’s nothing left to do but wait.”
In Washington, President Barack Obama urged Gulf Coast residents to listen to local authorities and follow their directions as Tropical Storm Isaac approaches. “We are dealing with a big storm” that could cause significant flooding and other damage, he said in brief remarks from the White House.
“Now is not the time to tempt fate,” Obama said. “Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”
In New Orleans, now protected by billions of dollars in stronger levees and large pumps, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was confident his city was prepared and he urged residents to hunker down. With Isaac forecast to remain below major Category 3 strength, there were no plans to evacuate the city.
“It’s going to be all right,” Landrieu told reporters.
But emergency managers in four states — Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida — ordered vulnerable coastal communities to evacuate and declared states of emergency.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said supplies had already been moved into place and he urged residents not to underestimate Isaac.
“People are too focused on where they think it’s going to make landfall,” Fugate said during a conference call. “It’s going to have effects well away from the center of circulation.”
Knabb said Isaac could push storm surge up to 12 feet high near its core. With Isaac expected to slow to a crawl, it could rain for nearly two days on the Gulf Coast, with up to 18 inches possible in the worst spots.
“A slow-moving, large system poses a lot of problems regardless of how strong it is,” Knabb said.
Hurricane center projected storm surges at 11 a.m. ranged from 6-12 feet in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana to 3-6 feet in the Florida Panhandle and 1-3 feet along the remainder of Florida’s West Coast.