From CNN MONEY:
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) - Hurricane Isaac's slow, rainy march through Louisiana is expected to cause as much as $1.5 billion in insured losses, according to one disaster modeling firm.
While comparatively modest as hurricanes go, Hurricane Isaac is already wreaking havoc. More than 644,000 were without power in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, power companies told CNN. And some 100 residents had been or were in the process of being rescued from flooded homes and rooftops in coastal Plaquemines Parish, according to CNN affiliate WWL.
Eqecat, a catastrophe modeling firm, suggested onshore insured damage - which includes residential property, commercial property, energy production and the interruption of business but excludes most flooding damage - would run between $500 million and $1.5 billion. The firm excludes flooding because the federal government insures against flood damage for most properties.
The storm could also cause more than $500 million in damages to off-shore energy production.
This morning on "Early Start," Christine Romans shares details from this early damage assessment from Hurricane Isaac.
Read more: Hurricane Isaac damages could hit $1.5 billion
Hurricane Isaac blasted through the Gulf Coast on the sevent anniversary of Hurricane Katrina yesterday. Residents in New Orleans are still reeling from the rough winds and rain in the city now. Many evacuated before Isaac landed, but some like Joe Locascio and his family chose to sit tight to ride out the storm.
Tuesday morning he told CNN he was without power and there was a lot of debris in the area. Locascio updates Zoraida Sambolin on the condition of his home and neighborhood on “Early Start” this morning.
“Right now the conditions are pretty good,” he says. Still without power, Locascio says the temperature is cool and it rains occasionally. “It’s safe to go out,” he adds. He and his family went out and talked to neighbors. His daughter even biked around the debris.
Locascio says he's glad that he chose to ride out the storm at home.
"I'm happy so far, because we had some water leaks in the house. If we weren't here, we wouldn't have been able to stop the leaks. We would have come back to real damage in the house," he says.
Hurricanetrack.com founder Mark Sudduth explains how new tech that allows livestreaming video of hurricanes as they happen.
Hurricane Isaac made landfall twice in the last day and is now back on land in southern Louisiana, pounding on the Gulf Coast.
President Obama has declared states of emergency in Louisiana and in Mississippi's coastal areas including Harrison County, which has issued mandatory evacuations for residents in low-lying areas. Two other nearby counties have issued similar orders, and an estimated 175,000 residents could be affected.
Rupert Lacy, director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, talks with Zoraida on "Early Start" this morning with an update on conditions in Gulfport, Mississippi.
New Orleans resident Joe Locascio reports on how his family is faring as they ride out Hurricane Isaac at home.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has the latest on the federal response to hurricane Isaac.
After hurricane Isaac made landfall last night, overnight officials are reporting "overtopping of a levee on the east bank" from Braithwaite to White Ditch in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish, which will "result in significant deep flooding in the area," the National Weather Service said.
Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish president, spoke to Zoraida Sambolin on "Early Start" about the overtopping of a levee in the parish.
“We knew we were going to have trouble with the projected storm surge, but we were hoping this storm wasn’t going to sit out there as long as it has done, backtracked, and keep pumping this water up against the levees. And there’s only just so much that it can take," Nungesser says.
Nungesser also reported that two parish workers were stranded on the levee.
“We're going to do everything possible,” says Nungesser. “What we do is our pump operators stay in the pump stations as long as they feel safe. The minute they feel safety is a problem, they are authorized to leave immediately and come to the government complex. These workers saw the water coming over the levee, got in their vehicle and headed out. It came up within minutes to where they didn't feel safe driving their vehicle any further. So they stopped on the levee and we began to try to get to them to get them out of there.”
The Plaquemines Parish President went on to say that a resident in the area was going to attempt to rescue the two parish members with his personal boat. “It sounds awfully dangerous. It is. he's very brave and we didn't encourage him to do it but he insisted to try to bring these men back to the main levee.”
This post will continue to be updated throughout the morning.
Thousands of people in low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast have been told to leave their homes with tropical storm Isaac approaching. That includes the tiny fishing village of Grand Isle, Louisiana, which is under a mandatory evacuation order.
CNN's Ed Lavandera reports live from Grand Isle for "Early Start" this morning, talking with shrimper Dean Blanchard about his desire to ride out the storm from home. Viewers may recognize Blanchard from his many interviews in the wake of hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, when his shrimping business was nearly wiped out.
Shrimper Dean Blanchard explains in the video clip above why he plans to ride out Isaac from Grand Isle, Louisiana instead of evacuating.
Having raced by Florida, tropical storm Isaac could now make landfall along the Gulf Coast as early as tonight.
Residents in Louisiana are preparing to test the new levees in effect since Hurricane Katrina hit them seven years ago. President Obama declared a state of emergency for Louisiana Monday, but the state is requesting more assistance. The latest reports from the National Hurricane Center predicts that Isaac could bring a storm surge up to 12 feet of water to New Orleans.
FEMA Director Craig Fugate speaks to CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin from Tallahassee, Florida on "Early Start" this morning, updating on the latest track from tropical storm Isaac.
"We're already in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama," Fugate says. "We have supplies coming in. The other lesson we learned, we don't want to wait until something happens and do assessments and determine what we need. So, we move supplies, particularly in this case, generator, water, food, infant supplies, and types of things that may be needed if the states do have a lot of flooding or other types of damages."
"What the president said yesterday was if you have a request for specific federal assistance, we're ready to provide that life safety issues," Fugate adds. "We're not going to hold anything up. But we'll look at the impacts and determine, does this really exceed the state's capability that require federal tax dollars to support that response and particularly if they start having damages. So, early on the request was direct federal assistance. If the financial impacts are greater than the state of Louisiana can manage, we assess that and we'll make recommendations again looking at what the governor has requested."
On Wednesday, it will have been seven years since hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, killing thousands and causing billions in damage. Now, Alabama is once again bracing for a hit from tropical storm Isaac.
The state is taking precautions for the strengthening tropical storm Isaac, which officials say could become a hurricane. A hurricane warning has been issued and Director of Alabama Emergency Management Agency Art Faulkner is preparing residents for the storm.
Faulkner joins CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin by Skype on "Early Start" this morning to explain the state's prep plans.
"We've been preparing for this since last week and throughout the weekend. We've monitored the situation," Faulkner says. "The governor has made decisions well in advance of the storm to be able to put the safety of the citizens on our coast at the utmost importance and make sure that we can get them to safety in the event that the storm strengthens and impacts and braces down on the coast of Alabama."
Faulkner adds, "we take every storm serious, and we always try to prepare for any type of disaster. The state of Alabama, certainly, is no stranger to that, even though we've not faced a hurricane. Last spring, we essentially had a hurricane get the northern two-thirds of the state of Alabama. And I think that you saw the first responders and the local elected officials and others and our governor be able to be proactive, get out there, and take care of our citizens. In this situation, we're trying to do that before the storm, because we certainly don't want to face the death that we faced out of the immediate threat of tornadoes in the state last year."
"Early Start with John Berman and Christine Romans" airs weekdays from 5-6am ET on CNN. Check in regularly for news, show updates and a little bit of fun.