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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has visited an emergency centre in hurricane-damaged Louisiana, a day after accepting the Republican nomination for US president.
Mitt Romney attended a Friday rally with running mate Paul Ryan in Florida before cancelling a campaign stop in Virginia and diverting to the South.
Hurricane Isaac caused heavy flooding in areas around New Orleans and damage across the Gulf Coast.
Mitt Romney will challenge President Barack Obama in November’s election.
The Democratic president is due to tour storm-affected areas of Louisiana Monday, a US national holiday.
Mitt Romney has visited an emergency centre in hurricane-damaged Louisiana
At least six deaths in Louisiana and Mississippi have been attributed to Isaac, which brought up to 16 in (41 cm) of rain in some areas.
Mitt Romney travelled on his new campaign plane to Louisiana, at the invitation of the state’s Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.
The two spent almost an hour meeting local officials and first responders on Friday.
“I’m here to learn and obviously to draw some attention to what’s going on here,” Mitt Romney told the governor, “so that people around the country know that people down here need help.”
The presidential candidate shook hands with National Guardsman and met residents who had lost their homes in the storm.
“He just told me to, um, there’s assistance out there,” resident Jodie Chiarello said.
“He’s good. He’ll do the best for us, you know. He speaks to our best interests at heart.”
Former Republican President George W Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina, in which 1,800 people died seven years ago, was widely perceived as a failure.
This year, Hurricane Isaac wrought less destruction and New Orleans benefited from a revamped set of flood defences erected after Katrina.
Correspondents say both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were eager to display crisis leadership in the wake of Isaac.
“The decision to travel on Monday was made before Governor Romney announced his decision to travel to Louisiana on Friday,” an Obama aide told reporters from the presidential plane Air Force One.
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign insisted it had not hurried to appear first amid the storm wreckage.
Barack Obama made federal emergency aid available earlier in the week. But he pledged further assistance for individuals in a Friday call with parish presidents and local leaders in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid said Mitt Romney’s visit was the “height of hypocrisy”, adding that Republicans planned to gut disaster aid.
Plaquemines Parish, just outside New Orleans, was among the areas hardest hit by flooding after an 8-ft (2.5-m) levee was overtopped, leaving many homes under about 12ft of water.
The Plaquemines levee was not part of a multi-billion dollar upgrade to the federal levees protecting the city.
Among those killed in the US by the storm were a man and a woman in the town of Braithwaite who apparently drowned in their kitchen as flood waters surged in.
In Mississippi, officials have been pumping water from a reservoir on the Louisiana border to ease the pressure behind a storm-battered dam.
About 600,000 people across Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas are without power as of Friday, Reuters reports.
Mitt Romney capped off the Republican convention on Thursday evening with a speech accusing President Barack Obama of failure.
The Obama campaign said the Republican had “gauzy platitudes, but no tangible ideas to move the country forward”.
Over 60,000 people have been ordered to evacuate an area in the south-east of Louisiana because a dam has been damaged by Hurricane Isaac.
People live downstream of the Lake Tangipahoa Dam in Mississippi, which has been damaged but is currently intact.
Isaac, now a tropical storm, dumped huge amounts of rain in recent days.
Officials are worried the broken dam, some 100 miles (161 km) north of New Orleans, could add to a swollen river.
Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess told local broadcaster WWL that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had ordered buses to the area to help evacuate residents.
Over 60,000 people have been ordered to evacuate an area in the south-east of Louisiana because a dam has been damaged by Hurricane Isaac
Over 7,000 National Guard troops, the US reserve armed forces, have been called into service across four states, the majority in Louisiana.
Bobby Jindal activated all Louisiana Guardsmen on Wednesday, which would bring total forces in the state to more than 8,000. They have helped rescue or evacuate more than 3,000 people in the state since the storm hit.
In the town of Amite, Louisiana, Police Chief Jerry Trabona said officers were going door-to-door to houses along the Tangipahoa River.
On Twitter, Louisiana officials quoted state Governor Bobby Jindal as saying Mississippi was considering a “controlled breach” of the dam to relieve pressure.
Although no longer a hurricane, Isaac still poses a threat to life because of storm surges, floods and tornadoes, the National Hurricane Center says.
At 13:00 local time, Isaac was 25 km (40 miles) south-west of Monroe, Louisiana, moving at 9 mph (15 km/h), according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm struck New Orleans on Wednesday, on the seven year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the region and killed at least 1,800 people in the Gulf Coast area.
Defence systems built to protect the city passed their first major test, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.
But along the shores of Lake Ponchartrain, just north of the New Orleans, dozens of buses and high-water vehicles were sent to evacuate some 3,000 people as waters rose fast – it was waist-high in some areas, the Associated Press news agency reports.
In one of the hardest-hit areas, Plaquemines, local boatmen plucked people from the roofs of their homes, many of whom had remained believing they could ride out what seemed a far smaller storm than Katrina.
President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowing federal funds to be released to local authorities.
By Thursday morning, more than one million residents of Louisiana and Mississippi were without power due to Isaac, according to the US department of energy.
Isaac is expected to move further inland over the next several days before breaking up during the weekend.
The storm killed at least 24 people as it passed over Haiti and the Dominican Republic earlier this week.
Yahoo News has fired its Washington bureau chief David Chalian for saying White House hopeful Mitt Romney was “happy to have a party with black people drowning”.
Caught on an open microphone, David Chalian was discussing Hurricane Isaac, which hit Louisiana with the Republican convention under way.
Yahoo said the remark did not represent the company’s views and that it had apologized to the Romney campaign.
David Chalian said on Wednesday he was “profoundly sorry”.
Yahoo News has fired its Washington bureau chief David Chalian for saying White House hopeful Mitt Romney was "happy to have a party with black people drowning"
His gaffe came on Tuesday evening, as Yahoo News was preparing to begin its live coverage of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, in association with ABC News.
In a video posted on YouTube, the commentators can be heard discussing how Isaac, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, was bearing down on the US Gulf Coast.
As footage is broadcast of Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, one voice can be heard saying: “They’re not concerned at all.”
Laughter is heard in the background as David Chalian says: “They are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”
He later apologized on his Facebook page for “making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke”.
“I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics,” he said.
A Yahoo spokeswoman told the Associated Press: “He has been terminated effective immediately.
“We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended.”
Mitt Romney was officially selected as the Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday, the first full day of the convention, which started a day late amid concerns over Isaac.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from New Orleans as Hurricane Isaac makes its slow approach.
Hurricane Isaac will hit the Louisiana city exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm.
New Orleans has closed its new floodgates in a bid to protect it from the effects of high waters brought by sustained winds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h).
Isaac killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
It has also caused significant flooding and damage across the Caribbean and forced a day’s delay to the start of the Republican party’s congress in Tampa, Florida.
Hurricane Isaac will hit Louisiana exactly seven years after it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but it is a much less powerful storm
At 02:00 local time the Category One hurricane was almost stationery about 70 miles (110 km) south of New Orleans, according to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
Tens of thousands of people have been told to leave their homes in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, though a mass evacuation has not been ordered. Storm warnings are also in place in parts of Florida, Texas and Alabama.
Officials say Isaac is likely to weaken before it reaches New Orleans.
“We don’t expect a Katrina-like event, but remember there are things about a Category One storm that can kill you,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Of particular concern are storm surges, with peaks of up to 3.7 m (12ft) forecast in parts of Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana. Rainfalls of up to 50 cm (20 inches) are forecast across wide areas, along with a high chance of isolated tornadoes along the coast.
The bowl-shaped city of New Orleans is particularly vulnerable to storms, with the centre of the city the furthest below sea-level.
But Mitch Landrieu said that the 8m-high levee gate which now protects the areas of the city that were badly flooded in 2005 had been closed since Tuesday morning.
Many residents of New Orleans have chosen to secure their homes but stay put, saying they were not too concerned by Isaac.
“I feel safe,” said Pamela Young from her home in the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood devastated by Katrina.
“Everybody’s talking <<going, going>>, but the thing is, when you go, there’s no telling what will happen. The storm isn’t going to just hit here.”
“If the wind isn’t too rough, I can stay right here. If the water comes up, I can go upstairs.”
Nazareth Joseph, who works at a hotel in French Quarter and was in the city during Katrina, said he had a busy week ahead so would stay where he was.
“We made it through Katrina; we can definitely make it through this. It’s going to take a lot more to run me. I know how to survive,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
By Tuesday night, more than 58,000 homes in New Orleans were reported to have lost power. Outages have also been reported across Louisiana and Mississippi, affecting more than 200,000 homes and business.
President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi, allowing federal funds to be released to local authorities.
Speaking from the White House, he warned residents along the Gulf Coast to heed warnings, including those to evacuate, saying: “Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”
Shortly before Isaac reached hurricane status on Tuesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the emergency declaration fell short of the federal help he had asked for.
Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans is now a hurricane, US forecasters say.
Hurricane Isaac boasting winds of at least 75 mph (120 km/h), is likely to make landfall by Tuesday night.
The storm is expected to hit New Orleans seven years after the much stronger Hurricane Katrina.
US President Barack Obama has warned residents in the path of the storm they should not “tempt fate” and should heed evacuation warnings.
In an update at 13:00 CDT the National Hurricane Center said the storm was 135 miles (220 km) south-east of New Orleans, moving north-west at 10 mph (17 km/h).
Barack Obama has declared an emergency in Louisiana, allowing federal funds to be released to local authorities.
“As we prepare for Isaac to hit, I want to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions – including if they tell you to evacuate,” Barack Obama said on Tuesday.
Speaking from the White House, he added: “Now is not the time to tempt fate. Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings. You need to take this seriously.”
Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans is now a hurricane
Shortly after Isaac reached hurricane status, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make a full emergency declaration for the state.
He told reporters that a declaration made on Monday did not allow for the reimbursement for state’s expenses from the storm.
“We have learned from past experiences that you cannot wait and you have to push the federal bureaucracy,” Bobby Jindal, who cancelled an appearance at the Republican National Convention because of the storm, said.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said his city was “officially in the fight” on Tuesday, as he confirmed its airport was closed and would not serve as a shelter.
Mitch Landrieu said that a 26 ft (8 m) high levee gate that now protects the areas of the city that were badly flooded in 2005 – which he dubbed “the great wall of New Orleans” – was closed on Tuesday morning.
“We will not have a Katrina-like event,” he said, adding there will still be parts of the city that will likely be flooded.
“Do not let this storm lull you into complacency,” he said.
“People may be getting bored. It’s better to be bored than to get hurt.”
Officials have not ordered any evacuations, telling residents to reinforce their homes and stock up on supplies instead.
The bowl-shaped city of New Orleans is particularly vulnerable to storms, with the centre of the city the furthest below sea-level.
Residents are hoping that billions of dollars spent on reinforcing flood defences that failed catastrophically in 2005 will hold this time.
Robert Washington, a New Orleans resident, told the Associated Press he does not trust the levees.
He lives in the Lower Ninth Ward, which saw some of the greatest damage after levees broke during Katrina. He planned to evacuate with his family
“I don’t want to take that chance. I saw how it looked after Katrina back here.”
In low-lying Plaquemines Parish, much of which lies outside the New Orleans levee system, a local official told Reuters news agency he was “really worried about the storm surge” – adding that a few more years were needed before flood protections were fully completed.
Isaac has killed at least 24 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and caused significant flooding and damage in the Caribbean.
It largely bypassed the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, but prompted a day-long delay to proceedings there.
The National Hurricane Center warned that a possible combined “storm surge” and high tide would cause flooding in coastal areas along the Gulf Coast.
Water would potentially reach 6-12 ft (1.8-3.7 m) above ground in south-west Louisiana and Mississippi, 4-8ft in Alabama and 3-6 ft in south-central Louisiana.
Isaac is also threatening heavy rainfall of as much as 20 in (51cm) in isolated spots, and could spark possible tornadoes along the northern Gulf Coast.