News ID: 255729
Published: 0205 GMT July 13, 2019

Tropical Storm Barry strengthens, with rain to soak millions

Tropical Storm Barry strengthens, with rain to soak millions
DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP

Heavy rains and gusty winds knocked out power on the Gulf Coast on Saturday as a strengthening Tropical Storm Barry churned a path to shore, threatening millions and testing flood-prevention efforts implemented after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans 14 years ago.

Officials predicted Barry would make landfall as this year’s first hurricane in the morning near Morgan City, west of New Orleans. The long day started after an overnight curfew with on and off rain and power outages. People used cellphones to see in the dark, and opened doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate, AP reported.

More than 45,000 people in southern Louisiana had lost power, and some roads were underwater as the edges of the storm lashed Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and Alabama with rain.

Though expected to be a weak hurricane — just barely over the 74 mph (119 kph) wind speed threshold — it threatened disastrous flooding across a swath of the Gulf Coast. The storm was expected to inflict the most damage on Louisiana and parts of Mississippi, with wind and rain affecting more than 3 million people.

Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi, and authorities took unprecedented precautions in closing floodgates and raising the barriers around New Orleans.

Authorities told at least 10,000 people in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast to leave, but no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where officials urged residents to “shelter in place.”

Before they did, people packed stores to stock up on bottled water, food and other essentials.

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent storms and flooding, but without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

Tracking forecasts showed the storm moving toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

In New Orleans, a group of neighbors cleaned out the storm drains on their street. Working together to lift off the heavy metal covers, they discovered that most of the drains were full of dirt, leaves and garbage.

 

 

   
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