NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Tropical Depression Isaac Friday brought heavy rains, tornado watches and the threat of flash floods to the Mississippi River Valley, forecasters said.
Isaac was about 145 miles south-southeast of Kansas City, Mo., and about 40 miles east of Joplin, moving north-northeast at 15 mph, the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in College Park, Md., said in its 4 p.m. CDT advisory. Maximum sustained winds were 25 mph.
A tornado watch was in effect for parts of northeastern Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southwestern Illinois and extreme western Kentucky and Tennessee.
Flood and flash flood watches and warnings were in effect for Arkansas, southern Mississippi and southern Louisiana, with the potential for as much as 8 inches of localized rainfall.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will travel to Mississippi and Louisiana Sunday "to meet with local officials and observe ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Isaac," the department said in a statement Friday.
President Barack Obama spoke by phone with parish presidents, mayors and county leaders in Louisiana and Mississippi and asked Napolitano and Federal Emergency Management Agency head W. Craig Fugate to update them on the steps the federal government has taken to support response and recovery efforts, the White House said in a statement.
The storm has dumped more than 20 inches of rain on New Orleans and more than 16 inches in Vero Beach, Fla.
Isaac was expected to move north into the middle Mississippi River Valley Saturday, and then turn northeast into the Ohio River Valley Saturday night.
Power was slowly coming back in Louisiana Friday as Isaac weakened to a tropical depression and moved slowly north from the Gulf Cost.
About 28 percent of customers in the metro New Orleans area had power restored by Thursday night, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported.
Hundreds of crews worked through the night to restore power to customers, some of whom have not had electricity since Tuesday.
In Jefferson Parish, about 4,500 customers had lights back on Thursday night while service was restored to nearly 13,000 customers in St. Tammany Parish.
In St. Charles Parish, 15,664 customers were still living in the dark. In heavily flooded St. John Parish, 18,143 customers were still without power. In Plaquemines Parish, that number was 11,800 early Friday.
Even as Isaac moved northward and out of the state, emergency management officials warned coastal areas were still at risk, The New York Times reported.
"This is still a powerful storm and there are a number of areas both along the coast and inland that can be affected by strong winds, storm surge and inland flooding and tornadoes," Fugate said.
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