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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.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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A few thunderstorms will likely spring up on Sunday ahead of an incoming cold front that will arrive Monday and bring widespread rain and lower temperatures.
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