Louisiana coast placed on pre-hurricane alert, New Orleans is getting ready


Tropical Storm Barry was Thursday 145 km from the mouth of the Mississippi River. It could become a hurricane late in the evening of Friday or Saturday, just before its center reaches the coast.

The World with AFP Posted today at 03h05, updated at 08h06

Time to Reading 3 min.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, July 11th.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, July 11th. JONATHAN BACHMAN / REUTERS

Part of the coast of Louisiana was placed on Thursday, July 11 in pre-hurricane warning against the advance of Tropical Storm Barry. The latter is expected to pour torrential rains especially on New Orleans, highly exposed to floods.

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The storm was 16 hours local 145 km southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi, moving relatively slowly. As a result, the large amount of precipitation it carries should fall on a limited area. The meteorological services of the city below sea level have again warned of a "Threat of major flooding" due to "Heavy rains (which) could lead to flash floods and floods of major life-threatening rivers". The authorities recalled that floods were responsible for 75% of deaths during a hurricane.

First hurricane of the season

Barry could become a hurricane late in the evening of Friday or early Saturday, just before his center reaches the coast. The National Hurricane Center issued a pre-alert Thursday night, which comes about thirty-six hours before the affected areas begin to feel the winds worthy of this type of weather phenomenon.

"We expect a Category 1 hurricane when it hits land, which will happen Saturday morning."said John Bel Edwards, governor of Louisiana. "It's going to be an extreme rain episode"he warned. For the President of the United States, Donald Trump, he is "Imperative" follow the directions of federal and local authorities. "We work closely with them. Please be prepared, be careful, and be safe », he wrote Thursday night on Twitter to the locals.

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If the forecast materializes, Barry will be the first hurricane of the season in the Atlantic, which runs from June to November. Category 1 – on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which has five – displays winds of at least 119 km / h. At 4 pm, what was still a tropical storm was at 65 km / h. Edwards, who placed Louisiana in a state of emergency Wednesday to mobilize more resources, Thursday authorized the mobilization of up to 3,000 members of the National Guard.

Satellite view of Tropical Storm Barry, July 11th.
Satellite view of Tropical Storm Barry, July 11th. NASA / REUTERS

Mandatory evacuation orders

New Orleans still bears the scars of the mighty Hurricane Katrina Category 5 that hit the city at the end of August 2005. The dykes had collapsed under the weight of the water, flooding 80% of the city and causing a thousand deaths, out of a total of more than 1,800 during the disaster. The Army Corps of Engineers said the dikes in the south of the city were causing some concern but appeared to pose little risk to the city itself, according to CBS. A local official said Wednesday that the 118 pumps scattered throughout the city were operational in "Optimal capacity".

The Mississippi approached its flood threshold (5.18 m): at 17 o'clock local time, it was 4.93 m in New Orleans. The dikes protecting the city are planned for a flood of 6.10 m. The meteorologists expected this level to be reached on Saturday morning but they have revised their expectations downwards: the river should peak at 5.79 m.

The famous city and a wide area around the agglomeration were placed in emergency state with sudden floods until Sunday morning. Up to 50 cm of rain is expected in places. First mandatory evacuation orders were issued Thursday in the middle of the day in several counties. The people of New Orleans are invited to stay confined.

Sandbags on the pas-de-porte

In New Orleans, Louisiana, July 10th.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, July 10th. HANDOUT / Ryan Pasternak

Rainfall of 15 to 20 cm has already fallen on the agglomeration, which caused flooding. Some roads were so underwater since Wednesday, many people moving their legs submerged to mid-calf. Sandbags were protecting the pas-de-porte. Teams of the state as well as inhabitants picked up in places debris and waste washed away by the current, found a journalist of Agence France-presse. The authorities had launched on Wednesday an appeal to the inhabitants to clean in a civic gesture the water drainage devices possibly blocked, pointing out that otherwise the water could invade their vehicles or their homes.

The New Orleans International Airport is scheduled to operate until the conditions "Become dangerous or the infrastructure damaged". Some 191 oil rigs – out of 669 with personnel on board – were evacuated during the day in the Gulf of Mexico, accounting for 28.55% of the region's production, according to the Office of Security and Safety. the protection of the environment.

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