Tropical Storm Barry’s wind and rain hit Louisiana coast

  • The Mississippi River approaches a levee at left in New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. Never in the modern history of New Orleans has water from the Mississippi River overtopped the city’s levees. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office inmate workers move free sandbags for residents in Chalmette, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is telling people in the southern part of the state to be prepared for heavy rain from Tropical Storm Barry as it pushes northward through the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • Tallulah Campbell, 8, clears out driftwood and other debris in preparation of Tropical Storm Barry near New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019. The area is normally a driveway at her family's home that is one of the few on land called batture on the outside of the Mississippi River levee at the border of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • Plaquemines Parish road crews add more dirt to the top of a levee near the Mississippi River levee, back, and the St. Bernard Parish line as they prepare for potential flooding from Tropical Storm Barry in Braithwaite, La., on Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Chris Granger/The Advocate via AP) STAFF PHOTO BY CHRIS GRANGER

  • Terrian Jones reacts as she feels something moving in the water at her feet as she carries Drew and Chance Furlough to their mother on Belfast Street in New Orleans during flooding from a storm in the Gulf Mexico that dumped lots of rain Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • People cope with the aftermath of severe weather in the Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Nick Reimann/The Advocate via AP) Nick Reimann

  • The Mississippi River is at 16 feet, which is just below flood stage, 17 feet, in New Orleans, Thursday, July 11, 2019 ahead of Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico. The river levees protect to about 20 feet, which the river may reach if predicted storm surge prevents the river from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office inmate workers move free sandbags for residents in Chalmette, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019 ahead of ahead of Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • The Old Glory towing vessel appears taller than St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter as the Mississippi River is currently above 16 feet, which is just below flood stage at 17 feet, in New Orleans, Thursday, July 11, 2019 ahead of Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico. The river levees protect to about 20 feet, which the river may reach if predicted storm surge prevents the river from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • Joe Miles, right, and Rey Varea, left, cut out drywall to prevent mold the day after severe weather flooded the home in the Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans, Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP) STAFF PHOTO BY MAX BECHERER

  • Delilah Campbell, 4, clears out driftwood and other debris in preparation of Tropical Storm Barry near New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019. The area is normally a driveway at her family's home that is one of the few on land called batture on the outside of the Mississippi River levee at the border of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The family removes the debris to prevent hearing clanging against the foundation pilings of the raised home. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • Delilah Campbell, 4, left, and her sister, Tallulah Campbell, 8, clear out driftwood and other debris in preparation of Tropical Storm Barry near New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019. The area is normally a driveway at her family's home that is one of the few on land called batture on the outside of the Mississippi River levee at the border of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • Delilah Campbell, 4, right, and her sister, Tallulah Campbell, 8, clear driftwood and other debris in preparation of Tropical Storm Barry near New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019. The area is normally a driveway at her family's home that is one of the few on land called batture on the outside of the Mississippi River levee at the border of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) Matthew Hinton

  • A towing vessel moves along the Mississippi River, top right, as Tallulah Campbell, 8, clears out driftwood and other debris in preparation of Tropical Storm Barry near New Orleans, La., Thursday, July 11, 2019. The area is normally a driveway at her family's home that is one of the few on land called batture on the outside of the Mississippi River levee at the border of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. All boat traffic has been ordered to stop by Friday morning in preparation for the... Matthew Hinton

Published: 7/12/2019 8:45:33 AM
Modified: 7/12/2019 8:45:21 AM

Tropical Storm Barry’s wind and rain began hitting parts of Louisiana Friday as New Orleans and coastal communities braced for a drenching from what could be the season’s first hurricane.

A hurricane warning was in effect along the Louisiana coast, with forecasters predicting landfall as a hurricane by early Saturday.

The storm’s rains are expected to pose a severe test of New Orleans’ improved post-Katrina flood defenses . Barry is forecast to bring more than a foot and a half of rain to parts of the state as it moves slowly inland.

“There are three ways that Louisiana can flood: storm surge, high rivers and rain,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “We’re going to have all three.”

Edwards warned of a dangerous combination with the already-high Mississippi River, which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring. He said authorities do not expect the river to spill over its levees, but cautioned that a change in the storm’s direction or intensity could alter that.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said pockets of Louisiana could have as much as 25 inches of rain.

“So here’s the takeaway: Dangerous situation,” he said during an online presentation Thursday. “That kind of rainfall in this system could cause flash flooding, cause ponding of water.”

National Guard troops and rescue crews were stationed around the state with boats and high-water vehicles. Helicopters were also on standby, and supplies including drinking water and blankets were ready for distribution, the Guard said.

President Donald Trump on Thursday night declared a federal declaration of emergency for Louisiana, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

Barry could have winds of about 75 mph, just barely over the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane , when it comes ashore, making it a Category 1 storm. Forecasters said Friday morning that while their models don’t “explicitly show Barry becoming a hurricane, it is still possible for that to occur before landfall.”

As of early Friday, Barry was about 80 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi, with winds around 50 mph. Tracking forecasts showed the brunt of the storm blowing into the Louisiana delta west of New Orleans on a path that could continue toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Louisiana’s low-lying southeastern tip was getting hit first. Many heeded evacuation orders affecting 10,000 people in Plaquemines Parish, leaving communities largely empty by Thursday afternoon.

Among the last to leave the town of Phoenix was 65-year-old Clarence Brocks and his family. The Plaquemines Parish native has evacuated many times and had to rebuild after Katrina wiped out his home. But he said that he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, despite the yearly threat of hurricanes.

“I was born and raised here. This is all I know,” the Air Force veteran said. “I’ve been all over the world and guess where I want to be at? Right here.”

Jesse Schaffer III of Meraux in St. Bernard Parish to the north was helping his relatives in Plaquemines Parish get to family members’ houses in safer areas. He said around 20 relatives were staying with him and his wife because their house is safer.

“We’re trying to evacuate and get all of our family members up and go to St. Bernard Parish,” he said.

With lightning flashing in the distance and some streets already covered with water from heavy rains, shoppers at an Albertsons grocery store in Baton Rouge stripped shelves bare of bread by Thursday night. Half the shelves normally filled with bottled water were empty.

A radar loop of Barry filled a TV screen at a brewery near downtown. Nearby, the sign outside a convenience store read: “Barry needs a beer and a nap.”

Meanwhile, utility crews with bucket trucks that could be needed after the storm filled hotel parking lots along Interstate 59 in southern Mississippi.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 20 inches of rain could fall in parts of eastern Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, and the entire region could get as much as 10 inches. The New Orleans area could get 10 to 15 inches through Sunday, forecasters said.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Thursday that the pumping system that drains the city’s streets is working as designed but that Barry could dump water faster than the pumps can move it.

“We cannot pump our way out of the water levels ... that are expected to hit the city of New Orleans,” she warned.

However, the city did not plan to order evacuations because Barry was so close and because it was not expected to grow into a major hurricane. Officials instead advised people to keep at least three days of supplies on hand and to keep their neighborhood storm drains clear so water can move quickly.

Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans in 2005 and was blamed altogether for more than 1,800 deaths in Louisiana and other states, by some estimates.

In its aftermath, the Army Corps of Engineers began a multibillion-dollar hurricane-protection system that isn’t complete. The work included repairs and improvements to some 350 miles of levees and more than 70 pump stations that are used to remove floodwaters.




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