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Hurricane Isaac weakens to tropical storm, threats remain

New Orleans, Aug 30 (): Tropical storm Isaac smashed New Orleans as it poured down on the city, seven years after the upsetting Katrina, leaving the place filled with water, while boat rescuers reached people trapped in the swampy bayous of rural Louisiana.

New Orleans and other coastal cities are affected by widespread flooding. Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans issued a curfew for the city, set to start Wednesday night and last until further notice.

On Wednesday, Hurricane Isaac was downgraded to a tropical storm but still the storm continued to hit Louisiana with damaging winds and heavy rains.

More than 500,000 people are without power across Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. About 8,200 National Guard members across Louisiana were on hand to help with relief missions and other duties, including providing security in parishes, such as Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

Volunteer organizations such as the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross can provide 65,000 hot meals a day in Louisiana, FEMA said in its daily briefing report.

Local officials said they had been working along with U.S. Coast Guard to rescue people stranded on top of the embankment, and they may have to break the embankment in the flooded area.

Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center said the weather condition will persist through Wednesday night or early Thursday. Southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi still have another 18 hours or so of rain, strong wind gusts and coastal flooding concerns. The worst conditions will occur intermittently when heavy bands wrapping around the storms centre spiral inland from the Gulf of Mexico. A few tornadoes are also possible within these bands.

Although Isaac was much weaker than Katrina, which crippled the city in 2005, the threat of dangerous storm surges and flooding from heavy rain was expected to last all day and into the night as the immense comma-shaped storm crawled across Louisiana.

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