NEW ORLEANS — About 3,000 National Guardsmen have been deployed and mandatory evacuations are in effect for some parishes as Louisiana prepared Friday for the arrival of Tropical Storm Barry.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an 8 p.m. curfew for the city Friday and has urged residents outside of the federal levee protection system to evacuate. Mandatory evacuations had been imposed earlier on parts of neighboring Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes.
“What we are faced with, as we’re being told, is heavy rain, a slow-moving storm,” Ms. Cantrell said on CNN Friday afternoon.
At a press conference in Baton Rouge earlier in the day, Gov. John Bel Edwards told residents the storm, still in the Gulf and inching toward Louisiana with its sheets of rain, will almost certainly be of hurricane strength when it hits Saturday. Barry is expected to make landfall somewhere near Morgan City, almost dead center on Louisiana’s coast between Texas and Mississippi.
Given its creeping pace, Barry could drop more than 20 inches of rain on central parts of the state as far north as Alexandria, but the storm’s cone is wide enough to mean flooding is a concern for the entire southern half of the Pelican State, Mr. Edwards said.
By 5 p.m. Friday, the storm, which has gathered strength as it creeps toward the coastline, had sustained winds of 65 mph, putting it just a few miles below a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Weather Service.
At stores around the metropolitan area, shoppers snatched up water, batteries, bread and other foodstuffs.
Authorites have set up helicopter teams and other rescue crews in spots outside what should be the storm’s ground zero, should those be necessary for reaching underwater areas.
Barry comes at a time when the Mississippi River is already near record high levels, with the Carrollton Gauge, a critical one that determines when the U.S. Corps of Engineers opens spillways to ease pressure, holding steady at 19 feet.
Models haven’t dealt with a scenario in which swollen waterways feeding the Gulf of Mexico are confronted with both massive rains and a storm surge, but Mr. Edwards said the Mississippi River levees should not overtop.
Nevertheless, flooding in the New Orleans area remains a major concern, especially because torrential rains Thursday have already left high water in several neighborhoods of the famously below-sea level city.
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