CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — US President Barack Obama said Wednesday his government was doing everything it could to help victims of Hurricane Isaac, which caused widespread damage and flooding.

"Our thoughts are with you. Our prayers are with you," Obama said in a message to the people of the Gulf Coast delivered at the start of a re-election campaign rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"We are doing every single thing that we need to do to ensure the folks down there are taken care of," Obama said.

Earlier White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the president had been closely monitoring the storm, which bore down on New Orleans as the city marked the seventh anniversary of murderous Hurricane Katrina.

The president was briefed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator (FEMA) Craig Fugate and John Brennan, his top White House homeland security advisor.

Obama learned new details on torrents of rainfall, a storm surge and damage from high winds and power outages, as well as flooding in coastal areas in Louisiana and Mississippi.

"President Obama directed FEMA to continue its efforts to assist the states affected by this storm," Carney said. "He will be regularly updated as the day progresses."