Storm Barry upgraded to hurricane, residents asked to shelter in place

New Orleans ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. The National Weather Service in New Orleans says water is already starting

Storm Barry upgraded to hurricane, residents asked to shelter in place

"Texans remember how the state of Louisiana came to our aid during Hurricane Harvey and now we are in turn lending our support as Louisianans face Tropical Storm Barry", Abbott said in a written statement Friday.

Barry is now on a collision course with New Orleans, Louisiana's most populous city, which is already underwater.

Forecasters warned that most of the storm's rain remained over the Gulf of Mexico and would likely move into Louisiana and MS later Saturday. In particular, a new surge barrier and gate that closes off the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal near the Lower 9th Ward has reduced the risk of flooding in an area long viewed as the city's Achilles' heel.

Flash flood watch through Sunday afternoon for Baldwin, Mobile, Choctaw and Washington counties.

The New Orleans area is protected from the mighty Mississippi River by levees that started going up right around the time of the city's first settlers three centuries ago.

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't believe levees will be topped by flood waters.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history.

"Rainfall remains the primary hazard, we are still looking at 10 to 15 inches of rain with the possibility of higher, isolated amounts", Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference.

The biggest worry has been the flooding, officials said.

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

On Thursday, President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency in Louisiana, giving the state access to federal resources, but has since moved on to tweeting about other topics such as his golf course.

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Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and MS, and authorities closed floodgates and raised water barriers around New Orleans.

They have been conducting volunteer rescues since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and were equipped with five flat-bottom rescue boats, a high-clearance, military-style truck and 86 boats staged in the region in preparation for the latest storm. "This means that New Orleans residents are not out of the woods with this system".

The National Weather Service is predicting the city will see rainfall totals of 10 to 20 inches.

Across the city, motorists parked cars on the raised median strips of roadways, hoping the extra elevation would protect them from flood damage. But some aren't taking any chances.

New Orleans was already saturated after thunderstorms drenched it with a foot of rain on Wednesday.

But Mayor LaToya Cantrell said 48 hours of heavy downpours could overwhelm pumps created to purge streets and storm drains of excess water. Hurricane hunting aircraft detected sustained wind speeds at 65 miles per hour by noon on Friday.

All inbound and outbound flights to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport have been canceled as as of 7 a.m. CDT.

River levels are expected to peak at just over 17 feet, according to Saturday's forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The storm system began as a slight disturbance off the Florida panhandle late last week and gained momentum the last several days as it developed into a tropical depression and then a tropical storm.

Folks all along I-10 and south of there have crammed the grocery stores and gas stations to stock up on supplies and wait out the rain event.

Many parishes across the state have already been ordered to evacuate ahead of Barry's landfall, and even residents of places that were not called to evacuate - like New Orleans -have packed up and left before the storm.

Residents along the Louisiana coast are no strangers to hurricanes or big floods.

Based on its current track, the storm will likely cause about $800 million to $900 million in damage, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

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