Tropical Storm Barry Floods Block Road to Coastal Louisiana Towns

Tropical Storm Barry Floods Block Road to Coastal Louisiana Towns

Hurricane Barry unloaded powerful winds and heavy rains as it finally made landfall Saturday along the Louisiana coast.

The Coast Guard rescued more than a dozen people from the flooded remote island of Isle de Jean Charles, south of New Orleans, where water had risen so high that some residents were clinging to rooftops. Early Saturday, streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp.

In St. John's Parish next to New Orleans, some areas were already under two or more feet (60 centimetres) of water, local television footage showed.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that the storm's impact, coupled with the already-high Mississippi River -which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring - could be a risky combination.

Elsewhere, more than 120,000 customers in Louisiana and another almost 6,000 customers in MS and Alabama were without power Saturday, according to poweroutage.us.

Currently, the storm is about 55 miles southwest of Morgan City with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

Further weakening to a tropical depression was expected on Sunday as Barry moved inland, the NHC said.

Though expected to be a weak hurricane, Barry threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast.

During a storm update through Facebook Live, Graham pointed to a computer screen showing a huge, swirling mess of airborne water.

"There is no system in the world that can handle that amount of rainfall in such a short period", Cantrell said on Twitter. "That is off the chart". It's also disrupted ship traffic on the Mississippi River, where water levels are rising. Parts of Dauphin Island, a barrier island in Alabama, were flooded both by rain and surging water from the Gulf, said Mayor Jeff Collier, who was driving around in a Humvee to survey damage. The weather service said some gusts could reach up to 35 miles per hour this morning and through the afternoon, and a wind advisory is in effect along the coast.

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Barry is expected to make landfall midday Saturday and bring significant flooding to Louisiana and MS through the weekend.

Water going over the levee at Point Celeste Pumping Station in Louisiana as Hurricane Barry makes its way to land.

US Army Corps of Engineers official Mark Wingate tried to calm residents, saying officials "see no concerns at all about [water] overtopping the Mississippi River levees".

Officials said they were anxious the water could close Highway 23, cutting off a key road and the rest of the parish to the south.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in outlying coastal areas beyond the protection of levees in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes.

Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches over south-central and southeast Louisiana and southwest MS, with isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches. Some parts of the state might get 25 inches (63 centimeters).

New Orleans had been braced for heavy rains Saturday, but instead had intermittent bands of moderate showers and occasional sunshine. Looking ahead, tracking forecasts showed the storm moving toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

Breitbart News reported that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, warning state residents not to take the storm lightly.

Authorities were paying specially close attention to the levee system built to contain the lower Mississippi River, which winds through the heart of New Orleans and was already above flood stage from months of heavy upstream rainfall over the Midwest. The barriers range in height from about 20 feet to 25 feet (6 meters to 7.5 meters).

National Weather Service forecaster Robert Ricks cautioned, however, that it was too early to say for certain that New Orleans was in the clear.

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