July 13, 2019

Tropical storm Barry threatens heavy rains and floods as it makes landfall in Louisiana
Tropical storm Barry rolled into the Louisiana coast on Saturday, flooding highways and forcing people to scramble to rooftops amid heavy rain that could yet test the area's infrastructure. After briefly becoming a Category 1 hurricane, the system weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 160 miles west of New Orleans, the National Hurricane Center said. By early evening, New Orleans had been spared the worst effects, receiving only light showers and gusty winds, and a forecaster said the city may escape with only two to four inches of rain. But officials warned Barry could still cause disastrous flooding across a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast and drop up to 20 inches of rain through Sunday across other parts of Louisiana. “This is just the beginning,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “It’s going to be a long several days for our state.” The Coast Guard rescued a dozen people from flooded areas south of New Orleans, some from rooftops, including a 77-year-old man with four feet of water in his home, a spokeswoman said. There was widespread flooding in Louisiana Credit: REUTERS None of the main levees on the Mississippi River failed or were breached, though one in Terrebonne Parish, south of New Orleans, was overtopped by water, officials said.  And video showed water getting over a second levee in Plaquemines Parish, where land extends deep into the Gulf of Mexico. Terrebonne Parish ordered a new evacuation affecting an estimated 400 people. Nearly all businesses in Morgan City, about 137 kilometers west of New Orleans, were shuttered with the exception of Meche’s Donuts Shop, where owner Todd Hoffpauir did a brisk business. While making doughnuts, Hoffpauir said he heard an explosion and a ripping sound and later saw that the wind had peeled off layers of the roof at an adjacent apartment complex. In some places, residents continued to build defenses against rising water. At the edge of the town of Jean Lafitte just outside New Orleans, volunteers helped several town employees sandbag a 600-foot stretch of the two-lane state highway. Donut shop owner Todd Hoffpauir still did a brisk trade despite the heavy rain Credit: AP Many businesses were also shut down or closed early in Baton Rouge, and winds were strong enough to rock large pickup trucks. Whitecaps were visible on the Mississippi. Barry was moving so slowly that heavy rain was expected to continue all weekend. Although the outlook for New Orleans had improved significantly, weather service forecaster Robert Ricks said it was too early to declare that the city was in the clear. Forecasts showed the storm on a path toward Chicago that would swell the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again. For a few hours, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 120 kph, just above the threshold to be a hurricane. Barry was expected to continue weakening and become a tropical depression on Sunday. Downpours also lashed coastal Alabama and Mississippi. And authorities closed floodgates and raised water barriers around New Orleans. It was the first time since Katrina that all floodgates in the New Orleans area had been sealed. Still, Edwards said he did not expect the Mississippi to spill over the levees despite water levels already running high from spring rains and melting snow upstream. Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.” Despite the apparent calm in her city, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell cautioned that the storm continued to pose a threat. “The slow pace pushed the timing of expected impacts further into today, tonight and Sunday,” Cantrell said. “This means that New Orleans residents are not out of the woods with this system.”



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