Tropical Storm Barry Creeps Closer As Gulf Coast Prepares To Be Drenched

Federico Mansilla
Julio 13, 2019

About 800,000 people are under a hurricane warning along the Louisiana coast from south of Lafayette to south of New Orleans. But on the central Gulf Coast, many residents are mainly concerned about life-threatening floods from its rain and storm surge.

The storm's leading edges lashed the state with bands of rain for most of the day, and some coastal roads were already under water Friday morning.

"There are three ways that Louisiana can flood: storm surge, high rivers and rain", Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

"If all the predictions come true, we're going to see major street flooding", Gumpert said. Over the remainder of the Lower Mississippi Valley, total rain accumulations of 4 to 8 inches are expected, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said 48 hours of heavy downpours could overwhelm pumps created to purge streets and storm drains of excess water.

"Already the ground is very saturated, the MS running very high into portions of Louisiana, so it's not going to take much to produce problems", said AccuWeather's Justin Povick.

"So here's the takeaway: unsafe situation", he said during an online presentation Thursday.

About 3000 National Guard troops along with other rescue crews were posted around the state with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters.

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

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While it could reach hurricane strength, the real peril it poses to roughly 10 million people in its path is rain, which could quickly trigger unprecedented flooding.

Barry's sustained winds Friday were 65 mph, per Accuweather; when its winds hold at 75 mph or more, the storm will be classified as a hurricane.

Sprint has also waived text, call and data overage fees for multiple ZIP codes in Louisiana ahead of the storm hitting the state. "This is all I know", the Air Force veteran said.

Jesse Schaffer III of Meraux (MEE-roh) in St. Bernard Parish to the north was helping his relatives in Plaquemines Parish get to family members' houses in safer areas.

In New Orleans, Adam Slocum and his wife got ice, water and extra food, filled their generator with gas and parked their cars on higher ground at a nearby grocery store. It's possible that it'll make landfall as a hurricane on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center told CNET sister site CBS News, with 10 to 20 inches of rainfall expected in Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.

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.

The city is particularly vulnerable to storms because it is "below sea level, protected by levees and pumping systems that remove rainwater, which can not drain naturally", the Environmental Protection Agency said in 2016 on its website, an entry moved to a web archive by the Trump administration.

Weakening is expected after Barry moves inland.

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