- Louisiana is facing high winds, rain, and evacuations as the state bunkers down amid Tropical Storm Barry.
- The storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane and make landfall over the weekend, threatening downpours that could flood local levees and rivers.
- Residents prepared throughout the week with supplies and evacuations as the storm drew nearer.
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Louisiana is facing high winds, rain, and evacuations as the state bunkers down in preparation for Tropical Storm Barry.
President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Louisiana on Thursday, and the storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane, at which point winds would clock in at 74 mph or more.
The levees and rivers across the state pose the greatest danger to spreading damage to nearby areas as they reach record-high water levels.
See how Louisiana looks from the ground as the storm creeps closer to making landfall.
Residents in towns on Louisiana’s coastal areas stocked up on supplies as they braced for Barry.
More than 2 million people in the state were under some kind of warning ahead of the storm, according to USA Today.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Thursday that the state was under a state of emergency, particularly the “entire coast of Louisiana is at play in this storm.”
“There are three ways that Louisiana can flood: storm surge, high rivers, and rain,” Edwards said. “We’re going to have all three.”
Storms that popped up earlier in the week had shown signs of potential damage to surrounding areas, including massive rains and flooding that could ramp up into the weekend.
The heavy rain from thunderstorms that struck on Wednesday and the “approaching precipitation from Barry over the Gulf fuelled flooding concerns and sparked evacuations in and around New Orleans,” AccuWeather reported.
The storms wreaked havoc on residents in areas including New Orleans, where some homes were hit especially hard.
Local groups got to work ahead of the weekend, setting up sandbags for residents to prevent flooding from nearby waterways.
Low spots on the coast, including in Chalmette, Louisiana, presented points of concern for local groups who targeted vulnerable areas with added dirt and sandbags.
Meteorologists predicted as much as 25 inches of rain could fall during the storm, which could mean dangerous flooding along parts of the Gulf Coast on Friday and Saturday.
Edwards said, “The more information we get, the more concerned we are that this is going to be an extreme rain event.”
By Friday, the Mississippi River added to concerns as it hit 16 feet, a foot below flood stage, after record flooding in the Midwest.
The National Weather Service forecast earlier this week that the river would crest at 19 feet late Friday into Saturday. This sparked concern as the levees in New Orleans are able to protect the city only up to 20 feet.
In comparison, the river is usually only between 6 and 8 feet above sea level in midsummer in New Orleans.
Though New Orleans didn’t issue evacuations, Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned that the days of rain could overwhelm the sewer and plumbing systems in the city, meaning they couldn’t drain.
“There is no system in the world that can handle that amount of rainfall in such a short period,” Cantrell said on Twitter on Friday.
The Associated Press reported that Louisiana authorities didn’t expect the Mississippi River to spill over its levees, but the storm’s unpredictability in location and intensity could affect that.
Authorities are worried about possibly record-breaking water levels, as the river has been predicted to reach 19 feet above sea level, the highest in 60 years.
The state’s National Guard was on hand ahead of the weekend to assist with sandbagging efforts and to prepare high-water vehicles, boats, and helicopters for missions as needed.
The Louisiana National Guard was reportedly authorised to dedicate up to 3,000 soldiers and airmen for preparations and later search and rescue missions.
“The Louisiana National Guard is taking a proactive and aggressive approach in dealing with the preparations ahead of Tropical Storm Barry,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis said, according to the US Army. “This will allow our Guardsmen to be more successful in their priority missions immediately following the storm – search and rescue operations and commodities distribution.”
Residents in the area remained on high alert as some reportedly cited the devastation from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as fuelling their fears of flooding.