NEW ORLEANS — Tropical Depression Barry didn’t unleash the feared catastrophic flooding on Louisiana this past weekend, but residents across the Gulf Coast remain on guard Monday amid warnings of tornadoes and flash flooding as the storm trudges inland.
The storm was downgraded Sunday afternoon, but flash-flood warnings continue in much of Louisiana and Mississippi. As the storm’s center moves from northern Louisiana into Arkansas, parts of that state, as well as eastern Texas, western Tennessee and southeastern Missouri, could see flooding.
The U.S. Hurricane Center said Sunday that some parts of south-central Louisiana could still get up to a foot of rain, with some isolated areas getting 15 inches. Forecasters said that 8 inches of rain had fallen in parts of Jasper and Jones counties in Mississippi, and several more areas are possible.
“This was a storm that obviously could have played out very, very differently,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “We’re thankful that the worst-case scenario did not happen.”
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Sunday the city was “beyond lucky” that rainfall there fell well short of early predictions of a deluge that could overwhelm the city’s pumping systems.
“We were spared,” she said at a news conference, while noting the city was ready to help nearby parishes hit harder.
About 51,000 customers in Louisiana, 1,800 customers in Mississippi and another 1,700 customers in Arkansas were without power Sunday night, according to poweroutage.us.
Barry, centered about 20 miles north of Shreveport late Sunday afternoon, whipped the state with 35 mph winds and was expected to inch north at 9 mph. The storm was expected to weaken further as the center moves further inland, becoming a remnant low pressure system by Monday night.
But the slow-moving depression was still expected to dump 3-5 more inches of rain, with up to 10-15 additional inches expected in some areas, the National Hurricane Center wrote in its 4 p.m. update.
“This additional rainfall will lead to dangerous, life threatening flooding,” the agency wrote.
Moreover, a “couple of tornadoes” were possible through Sunday night across parts of southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, western Alabama, eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee. Tornado warnings were previously issued in Amite County in Mississippi, as well as Livingston Parish and Helena Parish in Louisiana.
Several parishes and counties in Mississippi and Louisiana were under flash flood warnings. In Mississippi, forecasters said 8 inches of rain fell in parts of Jasper and Jones counties. And heavy rains on the state’s Interstate 59 corridor obscured visibility on the roads, with only headlights of oncoming cars visible as water flowed like a creek in the median.
More than 100,000 people were still without power Sunday afternoon in Louisiana, mostly in counties along the coastline.
All tropical storm warnings were discontinued and no coastal watches or warnings were in effect. Water levels along Louisiana’s southern coast were to continue subsiding into Sunday evening.
However, some “minor coastal flooding” was still possible through Sunday.
Barry’s center was forecast to move across northwestern Louisiana on Sunday and into Arkansas beginning Sunday night.
After Carrie Cuchens lost power at her home near Lafayette, she told The Associated Press that crews were removing trees off power lines. Some of her neighbors’ yards saw pooling water, but Cuchens didn’t think their homes would flood.
“There’s certainly water, certainly a lot of water, and as it continues to rain there’s always that concern,” she said.
She was worried more trees could fall due to the water-soaked soil.
“If this rain sits on top of us, the ground of course now is already saturated,” she said. “The roots are so saturated that if any wind, or any kind of shift happens, they’re easier to come up out of the ground. It’s not snapping limbs – it’s the whole entire tree. We have 100-year-old trees back here.”
President Donald Trump on Friday authorized federal resources to supplement local and state response efforts. Evacuations were ordered Saturday, while flights at the airport in New Orleans were canceled.
Barry became the season’s first hurricane Saturday before being downgraded again. It made landfall around 1 p.m., centered over Intracoastal City, Louisiana.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport resumed normal operations Sunday.
Evacuations were recommended for Pointe-Aux-Chenes due to overtopping of the levee in that area, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday evening. There was a mandatory evacuation ordered for areas south of the Leon Theriot Locks in Golden Meadow including Port Fourchon and Grand Isle (Jefferson Parish), according to officials, as well as a curfew from 10 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday for all areas of Lafourche Parish, including the city of Thibodaux and towns of Lockport and Golden Meadow.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for some residents of Terrebonne Parish in southern Louisiana earlier in the day as waters went over the Lower Dularge East Levee. The Coast Guard rescued 12 people from floodwaters there by boat and helicopter Saturday morning, according to the local NBC affiliate, channel 15.
Flooding began in Terrebonne Parish Friday from the storm surge.
Barry may have weakened in terms of wind strength since making landfall, but dangerous impacts loom due to rainfall and tides combining for what weather officials called a “bathtub” effect, in which the waters continue to rise.
“We did see a lot of flooding along the Louisiana coast,” Graham said Saturday. “Water’s going to stay high for a while.” He asked people to stay off the roads in those areas that were experiencing heavy rain and flooding.
“The people of Louisiana are resilient, and while the next few days may be challenging, I am confident that we are going to get through this,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement.