Barry: Triple threat of storm surge, high rivers and flooding

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 13, 2019

Tropical storm Barry will get drawn northward on Friday into the Louisiana coast Saturday morning as a minimal hurricane or strong tropical storm.

Louisiana officials have warned residents that Barry, expected to make landfall on Saturday, could inundate areas along the lower MS with up to 20 inches (51 cm) of rain.

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.

"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 said on Thursday that that 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.

Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans 14 years ago and was blamed altogether for more than 1,800 deaths in Louisiana and other states, by some estimates.

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

National Guard troops and rescue crews were stationed around the state with boats and high-water vehicles.

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.

Graham said that Barry had a "small chance, maybe" of becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season as it comes ashore, but added: "That's not the point here".

Barry's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65 miles per hour (100 kph) as it churned through the northern Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana.

While 10,000 people or more in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf coast were told to leave, no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where city officials instead urged residents to "shelter in place" starting at 8pm. The Plaquemines Parish native has evacuated many times and had to rebuild after Katrina wiped out his home. "This is all I know", the Air Force veteran said.

"We might have four or five times as much warming over the coming century as the last, so these kinds of weather events are likely to get much, much worse", said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. Nearby, the sign outside a convenience store read: "Barry needs a beer and a nap". Drinking water was lined up, and utility crews with bucket trucks moved into position in the region. The New Orleans area could get 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) through Sunday, forecasters said.

A spokesman for the US Army Corps of Engineers, who maintain the flood barriers, Ricky Boyett told AP: "We're confident the levees themselves are in good shape".

Barry's downpours could prove to be a severe test of the improvements made to New Orleans' flood defenses since the city was devastated by Katrina in 2005.

The EPA, which is in change of toxic waste sites and was forced to address flooded sites that released unsafe chemicals into waters during Hurricane Harvey, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Barry.

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