PICAYUNE, Miss. — Heavy rain and wind from Hurricane Isaac caused widespread flooding and power outages Wednesday in this inland south Mississippi community.
Officials said they would not know the extent of the local damage from the Category 1 hurricane until the weather cleared.
But that was not expected to happen until sometime Thursday because of the slow-moving pace of the hurricane as it moved northward from the Gulf Coast.
The storm was expected to dump from 12 to 15 inches of rain on Picayune, a town of 11,000 people located 45 miles northeast of New Orleans, where the brunt of Isaac struck.
The main electric utility company in the area, Coast Electic, reported that about 14,000 of its customers in Hancock and Pearl River counties were without power. A company spokesman said storm conditions hampered repair crews.
Motorists complained that gas stations were exploiting the spiked demand for fuel for vehicles and generators, raising prices by as much as 21 cents per gallon.
Mississippi Gov.Phil Bryant issued an executive order prohibiting price gouging, clearing the way for Attorney General Jim Hood to investigate complaints and take legal action against offenders.
The National Hurricane Center siad Isaac struck the Mississippi and Louisana coasts Tuesday night, then retreated into the Gulf. But it returned for a second landfall Wednesday and began a wobbly path northward.
Protective levees, floodgates and a critical drainage system held up in the face of the double storm surge in New Orleans, a community devastated by the consequences of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisana described Isaac as a "nasty, determined storm" but not nearly as threatening as Katrina.
She said the rebuilding of the levees and other structural improvements made in New Orleans after Katrina were "absolutely paying off."