BY: Stephon Seawright
SC Staff Writer
What started out as a tropical storm in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea on August 21, turned into a destructive hurricane that has claimed lives and caused 1.5 billion dollars of damage.
Hurricane Isaac began its path of destruction by hitting Hispaniola and Cuba, and then entered the Gulf of Mexico. Isaac reached hurricane strength the morning of August 28, when it was 75 miles away from the Mississippi river.
The hurricane had a documented wind speed of 80 mph as it struck the U.S. later that day at 6:45 pm, just southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi river.
The eye of the storm retreated back over water and crawled offshore of southeastern Louisiana before it struck again just west of Port Fourchon at 2:15am on August 29.
Isaac weakened to a tropical storm later that day at 2pm as it continued to slowly move through Louisiana, producing strong thunderstorms as it went.
Around 4pm on August 30, Isaac weakened further and turned into a tropical depression over northern Louisiana.
As the storm died down, the true extent of the destruction it caused came to light.
As of 12pm Thursday September 6, power companies have reported that there were over 900,000 customers without power in the Gulf Coast states. There is widespread flooding in all of those areas as well, with the most severe being in Louisiana.
New Orleans itself was spared, receiving only minor damage thanks to a levee system fortified after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.
So far there have been 5 reported deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi, 24 killed in Haiti, and 5 deaths in the Dominican Republic.
Although Isaac hit on the anniversary of hurricane Katrina, it’s impact doesn’t even compare to the devastation caused by the much more powerful hurricane that hit 7 years ago.
At its peak, Isaac had wind speeds of 80mph, while Katrina had maximum wind speeds of 125mph. Also, Isaac’s death toll doesn’t measure up to the hundreds of people that died as a result of Katrina.
As Hurricane Isaac clears out of the gulf coast, analysts are going in to assess the economic damage. Isaac is expected to cause at least small ripples in gas prices, jobless claims, and overall economic growth.
The largest economic impact will likely be caused by the shutdown of most of the Gulf Coast oil and natural gas drilling platforms and refineries, seeing as that will slow economic growth.
So far Isaac did cause gasoline prices to shoot up this week, and that may cause a jump in some inflation measures, but any increase is likely to be minor. Wholesale gasoline prices went up 20 cents per gallon in preparation for Isaac, but have now fallen back down 10 cents since August 27.
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