Recovery begins as waters recede

Floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac receded, power came on and businesses opened, just in time for the Labour Day weekend, the beginning of what is certain to be a slow recovery for Louisiana.

There were other signs of life getting back to some sense of normality. The Mississippi River opened to limited traffic, the French Quarter rekindled its lively spirit and restaurants reopened.

Isaac dumped as much as 16ins of rain in some areas, and about 500 people had to be rescued by boat or high-water vehicles. More than 5,000 people were still staying in shelters.

The remainder of the storm was still a powerful system packing rain and the threat of flash flooding as it headed across Arkansas into Missouri and then up the Ohio River valley over the weekend, the National Weather Service said.

Further south, the storm victims included a man and a woman discovered in a home in the hard-hit town of Braithwaite, south of New Orleans; a man killed in a restaurant fire; two men killed in separate car accidents and a man who fell from a tree.

Isaac's death toll is now at least seven - five in Louisiana and two in Mississippi. It includes a 75-year-old Slidell, Louisiana, man who drowned after his car fell from a flooded highway up-ramp into 9ft of water on Thursday evening. Mississippi authorities said the death on Thursday of a 62-year-old woman whose car was hit by a tree had also been attributed to Isaac.

In Louisiana alone, the storm cut power to 901,000 homes and businesses, or about 47% of the state, but that was down to 617,000.

Meanwhile, the leftovers from the storm pushed into the drought-stricken Midwest, knocking out power to thousands of people in Arkansas. At least six people were killed in the storm in Mississippi and Louisiana.

In Lafitte, a fishing village south of New Orleans, Mr Romney saw soaked homes, roads covered with brown water and debris-littered neighbourhoods. The Republican-friendly community is outside of the government levee system that spared New Orleans and it lay on an exposed stretch of land near the Gulf.

Crown Point, Lafitte and other nearby settlements that jut inland from the Gulf are accustomed to high water driven by hurricanes. But Isaac, a relatively weak storm by the standards of Betsy and Katrina, pushed in much more water than expected after it stalled after landfall. To the east, officials pumped and released water from a reservoir, easing the pressure behind an Isaac-stressed dam in Mississippi on the Louisiana border. The threat for the earthen dam on Lake Tangipahoa prompted evacuations in small towns and rural areas.