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Barry lashes Louisiana coast with heavy rain

14 July 2019

And video showed water getting over a second levee in Plaquemines Parish, where fingers of land extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 120,000 customers in Louisiana and another almost 3,000 customers in MS 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.

In its latest update at 13:00 local (18:00 GMT), the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC) confirmed Storm Barry's winds had slightly weakened. Officials expect Barry to weaken and become a tropical depression Sunday as it moves inland, meaning its winds would fall below 39 miles per hour.

US Senator Bill Cassidy said officials with the Army Corps of Engineers told him they were "confident" that the 20-foot-high levee system protecting New Orleans, a city of 400,000, would hold. In Alabama, rain pounded the eastern shore of Mobile Bay overnight, with scattered power outages in communities including Daphne, along Interstate 10. People used cellphones to see in the dark, and opened doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.

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

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The National Hurricane Center said its slow trek means a longer period of heavy rainfall and flooding that will last through next week, forecasters said. "This is just the beginning", he said at a Saturday news conference. "That is off the chart".

The eye of the storm made landfall at Intracoastal City, a speck of a town with a few houses and businesses. That's because the region faces a rare one-two-three punch: the storm's anticipated tidal surge and torrential downpour, combined with record-high water levels in the Mississippi River. He said the island still had power early Saturday afternoon and wind damage was minimal.

Another shopper, 31-year-old Trameka Tompkins, said she wasn't too concerned about the storm.

None of the main levees on the Mississippi River failed or were breached, Edwards said.

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 neighboring Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes south of the city.

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Barry was moving so slowly, it was likely that heavy rain would continue throughout the weekend, Graham said. This has always been projected to be a rain and flood event and it will be. Looking ahead, tracking forecasts showed the storm moving toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

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

"Nobody should take this storm lightly just because it's supposed to be a Category 1 when it makes landfall", Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, according to CBS news.

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.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell thanked residents for staying off the streets and urged them to remain vigilant because the worst of the wind and rain was yet to arrive. The barriers range in height from about 20 feet to 25 feet (6 meters to 7.5 meters).

The brunt of Barry's force was expected to skirt the western edge of New Orleans, avoiding a direct hit on a low-lying city virtually surrounded on all sides by rising waters. As day broke, streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp.

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The New Orleans Airport said all flights in and out on Saturday had been canceled but most airlines were planning to resume operations on Sunday, weather permitting.

Barry lashes Louisiana coast with heavy rain