Barry is a triple threat of storm surge, high rivers and flooding as it gets closer to the Louisiana coast

Louisiana authorities are urging residents not to underestimate the danger and destruction Tropical Storm Barry threatens as it nears the coast Friday....

Posted: Jul 12, 2019 8:10 AM
Updated: Jul 12, 2019 12:00 PM

Louisiana authorities are urging residents not to underestimate the danger and destruction Tropical Storm Barry threatens as it nears the coast Friday.

'Look, there are three ways that Louisiana floods: storm surge, high rivers and rain. We're going to have all three,' Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday in a news conference.

Barry is getting stronger as it creeps across the Gulf of Mexico's warm waters en route to a landfall expected early Saturday in Louisiana.

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.

Ten to 15 more inches of rain are on the way, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said, threatening to inundate ground already soaked from a Wednesday storm that flooded some New Orleans homes and businesses.

Another risk looms in the Mississippi River. Usually at 6 to 8 feet this time of year around the Big Easy, the river is at 16 feet after a year of record flooding, and Barry could push in a storm surge of 2 to 3 feet.

Officials are 'confident that there will not be overtopping of the levees in New Orleans,' Edwards told CNN Friday. Still, the unusual confluence of factors is rattling nerves along the 'sliver by the river,' a swath of relatively high ground along the Mississippi that's less likely to flood in typical rain and hurricane storm surge events than other areas.

At 11 a.m. ET Friday, Barry was 100 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 115 miles southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm, crawling along at 5 mph, is expected to be a hurricane by the time it reaches shore, the National Hurricane Center said.

About 800,000 people are under a hurricane warning along the Louisiana coast from south of Lafayette to south of New Orleans.

Barry is the first storm of the 2019 season to approach the United States.

Track the storm

Stocking up or moving out

President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency for Louisiana, where officials activated 3,000 National Guard members in anticipation of the destruction Barry might bring, the governor said.

'Heed the warnings,' he told CNN's John Berman on Friday morning, pointing out that fatalities often happen when motorists try to drive through floodwater.

'It's deeper than they believe it to be, and also there's current that sometimes is imperceptible,' Edwards said. 'We need individuals to not drive through standing water.'

While some in low-lying places have been directed to evacuate, officials haven't ordered mandatory evacuations in the most populated areas.

Many residents aren't eager to endure the expense and effort of leaving, compared with what could be a few uncomfortable hours or days without power. Many also want to stay home so they can bail water if it rises, then dry out floors and drywall as soon as it recedes.

Pamela Hughes will ride out the storm in her mother's trailer in Port Sulphur, which is under a mandatory evacuation order, she said.

'I really don't think it's going to be too bad,' she told CNN.

Others, including Kristopher Williams, are staying behind to protect their pets and their belongings.

'Everything I own is in it,' he said of his truck. 'I'm not an ignorant person. I know the dangers. I also know how to get out of just about any bind I encounter.'

As others head to higher ground, Chef José Andrés' nonprofit World Central Kitchen announced Thursday it would set up kitchens in Lafayette and New Orleans ahead of the storm.

'Katrina left a lot of trauma behind'

Tanya Gulliver-Garcia, of New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood, had a planned trip to New York, with a flight out Friday evening. She still plans to go but stocked up on canned food and water in case her 'hurrication' falls through and she has to ride out the storm, she said.

For now, her main concern is for her friends and neighbors who lived through Hurricane Katrina, the deadly 2005 storm that still looms large in the minds of many residents, she told CNN.

'This storm is stressing them out,' she said. 'Trauma stays in your body, and Katrina left a lot of trauma behind.'

Gulliver-Garcia worries about people with limited options and without the means to evacuate, she said, adding that she knows people across the country who would take her in at a moment's notice.

'Many people in this community don't have that luxury,' she said.

Overwhelmed pumps and pipes

New Orleans' network of drainage pumps, underground pipes and canals were overwhelmed earlier this week by rain. And though water piled up briefly on some streets, the storm was a good test of the drainage system, Edwards said.

'It performed well,' he said, adding, 'you never know exactly what Mother Nature's going to throw at you. ... But I'm confident that New Orleans is going to weather this storm (Barry) in pretty good fashion.'

Flooding concerns are not limited to Louisiana. Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are also at risk for extreme rain, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said Thursday.

Mobile, Alabama, can expect heavy rain that may lead to flash flooding, as well as a high risk of rip currents and a surf up to 8 feet, the National Weather Service tweeted early Friday.

The Florida Panhandle has seen double red flags go up in some areas, closing beaches, the weather service said.

The Mississippi Delta Region is also at risk for tornadoes beginning Friday evening.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 29684

Reported Deaths: 1103
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds238239
DeSoto148616
Madison126734
Jones110449
Neshoba98171
Lauderdale90079
Rankin88812
Forrest85142
Harrison84210
Scott76215
Copiah59216
Jackson58416
Leake57019
Holmes54441
Wayne53513
Lee53218
Oktibbeha53226
Washington5319
Warren49618
Yazoo4936
Leflore48049
Lowndes47212
Lincoln44334
Lamar4407
Grenada4325
Pike40712
Monroe38830
Lafayette3774
Attala35823
Sunflower3467
Newton3389
Covington3345
Panola3256
Bolivar32114
Adams29318
Simpson2833
Pontotoc2736
Marion27011
Tate2709
Chickasaw26918
Claiborne25610
Jasper2566
Winston2546
Noxubee2538
Pearl River24832
Clay24710
Marshall2173
Smith21611
Clarke20524
Coahoma1916
Union1919
Walthall1804
Kemper17714
Lawrence1701
Yalobusha1677
Carroll16411
Itawamba1348
Humphreys1329
Calhoun1284
Tippah12811
Hancock12613
Webster12610
Montgomery1242
Tallahatchie1224
Jefferson Davis1094
Prentiss1023
Greene1018
Jefferson993
Tunica933
Wilkinson929
Amite892
George783
Tishomingo741
Quitman730
Choctaw724
Perry654
Alcorn631
Stone571
Franklin412
Sharkey340
Benton300
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4802152
Montgomery3947103
Mobile3904134
Tuscaloosa218842
Marshall168010
Lee130237
Madison12717
Shelby117623
Morgan10475
Walker90524
Franklin87814
Dallas8689
Elmore86414
Baldwin8289
Etowah70713
DeKalb6945
Butler62328
Chambers61227
Tallapoosa58369
Autauga56012
Russell5190
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4736
Limestone4660
Lowndes46321
Houston4614
Cullman4354
Pike4175
Colbert3836
Coffee3702
Bullock3679
St. Clair3472
Barbour3452
Covington3437
Escambia3326
Calhoun3225
Hale30621
Marengo30011
Talladega3007
Wilcox2898
Sumter28412
Clarke2726
Dale2680
Jackson2632
Winston2463
Monroe2312
Chilton2282
Blount2261
Pickens2226
Marion21413
Randolph2019
Conecuh1977
Choctaw19512
Bibb1861
Greene1838
Macon1819
Perry1621
Henry1313
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1050
Washington1047
Cherokee857
Geneva780
Lamar751
Fayette671
Clay622
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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