NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Barry trudged through northwestern Louisiana on Sunday, dropping up to 15 inches of rain in some places to create life-threatening flood conditions along the Mississippi River.
Barry, which made landfall as a category 1 hurricane on Saturday then quickly weakened to a tropical storm, was 15 miles (25 km) east-southeast of Shreveport with maximum sustained winds of 40 miles (65 km) per hour early Sunday afternoon.
Fears that Barry might devastate the low-lying city of New Orleans like Hurricane Katrina did in 2005 were unfounded, but rain in the forecast could still cause life-threatening flooding until Monday, the National Weather Service said.
New Orleans saw light rain on Sunday morning, and churches and several businesses were open, including some on Tchoupitoulas Street along the flooded Mississippi River. Streets in the city’s popular garden district were quieter than usual but some joggers and dogwalkers ventured out, according to a Reuters witness.
Sixty-five miles southeast of New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish, part of which lies below sea level, residents received mandatory evacuation orders ahead of Barry’s impact.
Emmett Sylve, 74, said the storm had destroyed his trailer home off of Highway 23 after four feet of water poured in “like Niagara Falls.”
Sylve’s cousin Elliott, 75, said he hoped the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help provide new housing for Emmett.
“We’re all elderly people here, this is our property and we don’t have anywhere to go,” Elliot said. “We don’t have the resources to stay in a motel for seven or eight days.”
Up to 15 inches of rain were expected in some parts of south-central Louisiana on Sunday, the Weather Service said.
The rain was expected to raise the already flooded Mississippi River but not overtop the levees.
The National Weather Service said tornadoes were possible on Sunday across portions of southeastern Louisiana, Mississippi, western Alabama, eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee.
The Mississippi River crested on Friday night in New Orleans at just under 17 feet (5.18 meters), the National Weather Service said, much lower than a prediction earlier this week of 20 feet (6.1 meters), near the height of the city’s levees.
Barry has shut in 73%, or 1.38 million barrels per day (bpd), of crude oil production in the U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) said on Sunday, an increase of 3 percent from Saturday.
(GRAPHIC – New Orleans and its levees: tmsnrt.rs/2jEdGot)
Reporting by Collin Eaton; Additional reporting and writing by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Nick Zieminski
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