published Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Isaac nears New Orleans, floods rural Louisiana levee

Bay St. Louis, Miss., fireman David Stefano reacts as he and other first responders use an airboat to reach a house fire Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Isaac's rainfall flooded a number of streets in this Bay St. Louis subdivision, preventing firemen from responding quickly to the fire that destroyed a house. (AP Photo/Holbrook Mohr)
Bay St. Louis, Miss., fireman David Stefano reacts as he and other first responders use an airboat to reach a house fire Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Isaac's rainfall flooded a number of streets in this Bay St. Louis subdivision, preventing firemen from responding quickly to the fire that destroyed a house. (AP Photo/Holbrook Mohr)
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

BY MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and STACEY PLAISANCE

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Isaac is lashing New Orleans as it approaches and pushing flood waters over a rural levee south of the city, where authorities believe some people may be trapped.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm's center early Wednesday was about 50 miles south-southwest of New Orleans and moving slowly.

Authorities say a storm surge driven by Isaac pushed water over the top of an 18-mile stretch of levee in a thinly populated part of Plaquemines Parish.

The levee is one of many in the low-lying coastal zone. It is not part of New Orleans' defenses.

Plaquemines officials believe some people may be trapped in their homes by the flood but they are not sure how many might still be in the area. Strong wind was hampering rescue efforts.

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