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

Katie Ramirez
July 13, 2019

Tropical Storm Barry is gaining strength as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico while residents, governments, and utilities prepare for its landing in Louisiana by Saturday morning.

Parts of New Orleans already are underwater with the Mississippi River, which is usually at 6 to 8 feet in midsummer, now at 16 feet. Extreme flooding will be possible in the Gulf states as it moves north.

"There are three ways that Louisiana can flood: storm surge, high rivers and rain", Edwards said. "The challenge is just getting there to assess the damage at this point, so it might be a little while before we have a more solid idea of what's going on there". "It's always been about the rain".

The storm was about 85 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River late Thursday.

"Tropical Storm Barry is a risky and life-threatening storm", Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said at a news conference. "That kind of rainfall in this system could cause flash flooding, cause ponding of water". Helicopters were also on standby, and supplies including drinking water and blankets were ready for distribution, the Guard said.

Barry could have winds of about 75 miles per hour (120 kph), just barely over the 74 miles per hour threshold for a hurricane, when it comes ashore, making it a Category 1 storm, forecasters said.

States of emergency have been declared in the Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes, with mandatory evacuations ordered in Jefferson and Plaquesmine parishes.

Among the last to leave the town of Phoenix was 65-year-old Clarence Brocks and his family.

"I was born and raised here".

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"We lost everything, and we started from scratch", Brock, an Air Force veteran, recalled. He said around 20 relatives were staying with him and his wife because their house is safer. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said 48 hours of heavy downpours could overwhelm pumps created to purge streets and storm drains of excess water.

Willie Brumfield's home already flooded during heavy rain on Wednesday.

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.

A radar loop of Barry filled a TV screen at a brewery near downtown.

Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches over southeast Louisiana and southwest MS, with isolated amounts of 25 inches.

Bel Edwards said that while talking to the Army Corps of Engineers, officials are confident the water will not go over the New Orleans levees.

While New Orleans authorities refrained from ordering evacuations and advised residents to shelter in place instead, tourism officials reported an exodus of hotel guests checking out early on Friday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott warned a news conference: "Tropical Storm Barry is a risky and life-threatening storm". "We need individuals to not drive through standing water".

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