Rainfall threatens Louisiana as Tropical Storm Barry moves inland
Hurricane Barry made landfall in Louisiana and weakened to a tropical storm on Saturday. The storm, previously a Category 1 hurricane, brought heavy rainfall and flooding to the Gulf Coast and knocked out power for tens of thousands in the region.
Hurricane Barry: Facts
- The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Intracoastal City on Saturday afternoon. It weakened to a tropical storm shortly after.
- Barry could bring "dangerous, life-threatening flooding" with more than 20 inches of rainfall in Louisiana and Mississippi.
- 70,000 people are without power: 67,000 in Louisiana and 3,000 in Mississippi.
- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued at least 12 people amid floodwaters in Louisiana.
Hurricane warnings lifted in Louisiana
According a Saturday update from the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane warning for Louisiana has been lifted. A tropical storm warning is now in effect for the following regions:
- Mouth of the Mississippi River to Sabine Pass
- Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas including metropolitan New Orleans
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for Intracoastal City to Biloxi, Mississippi, as well as Lake Pontchartrain. During a Saturday evening press conference, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged residents to continue preparing for potential life-threatening flash flooding and to not let their guard down.
"Every storm is different," Edwards said. "My concern is we have a lot of people going to bed tonight thinking the worst is behind them and that's not the case."
Scientists worry about wildlife habitat
Hurricane Barry could affect the environment of the Gulf coast and Lower Mississippi Valley in numerous ways, scientists say. But the extent of the damage is hard to predict because the region faces a rare combination: the storm's anticipated tidal surge and torrential downpour, combined with record-high water levels in the Mississippi River.
"We don't know how the system is going to respond to all this because it's so unusual," said Melissa Baustian, a coastal ecologist with the Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge.
Also vulnerable are Louisiana's coastal marshes, already hammered by development and flood control measures that prevent natural coastal shoreline replenishment.
"There are going to be short-term effects on the ecosystem," said David Muth of the National Wildlife Federation's Gulf Restoration Program. "But what's out of whack is that this amount of rainfall is linked to a longer-term trend because of climate change, and that's disturbing."
FEMA "confident" in its response
During a Saturday press call, Jeff Byard told reporters he was confident in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's to the continued threat of Tropical Storm Barry. "We have adequate commodities if needed," Byard said.
Byard serves as the agency's Associate Administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery. Also on the call was Mark Wingate with the Army Corps. of Engineers, who said there was "no concerns of [the Mississippi river] overtopping the levees" in New Orleans.
Wingate said the Army Corps. was providing assistance in Plaquemines Parish, where back levees are being overtopped.
120 dogs and cats transported ahead of storm
The Humane Society of the United States flew more than 120 dogs and cats to safety before Hurricane Barry made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday. The nonprofit said all of the animals are up for adoption.
The animals were rescued mostly from St. Landry Animal Care and Control and St. Martin Animal Shelter on Friday, the organization said in a blog post. The shelters are both located near Lafayette -- in the path of the storm -- and house many of their animals outdoors, making rescue efforts crucial.
The Humane Society said it transported the animals to Virginia to be distributed among various shelter and rescue organizations.
Read more on the operation here.
-- Sophie Lewis
Barry weakens to tropical storm
Barry weakened to a tropical storm Saturday and made landfall on the Louisiana coast, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving at 6 mph.
Barry, once a Category 1 hurricane, was located about 20 miles west-southwest of Lafayette, the hurricane center said.
"We're not out of the woods yet"
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell urged residents to remain vigilant as the hurricane approached the Louisiana coast. "We're not out of the woods yet," she said in a news conference Saturday.
"The primary risk continues to remain heavy rains for the city of New Orleans," she added.
Water overtopping levee in Plaquemines Parish
Emergency officials said rising water is overtopping a levee in Plaquemines Parish, CBS affiliate WWL-TV reported. First responders were battling rising water at a back levee system that protects some parts of Plaquemines Parish from coastal flooding.
Crews witnessed overtopping along the back levee system that protects the Myrtle Grove and Pointe Celeste early Saturday, local security director Patrick Harvey said.
"Hopefully the overtopping does not cause a breach," Harvey said. "If so, we will continue to fight that battle, trying to protect Highway 23 if we need to evacuate any other residents from the southern part of the parish."
Barry strengthens into a hurricane
The National Hurricane Center said Barry strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane late Saturday morning. The hurricane has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.
The storm, which is located 40 miles south of Lafayette, is moving northwest at 6 mph.
Coast Guard rescues 12 people amid floodwaters
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 12 people amid floodwaters in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, the military branch said in a statement Saturday. They responded to the residential area after a 4:30 a.m. distress call.
Coast Guard officials arrived at the scene with a small boat and helicopter. An aircrew hoisted four people and their cat and transported them to a nearby port.
"Hurricanes and tropical storms can be deadly, and the Coast Guard's ability to conduct rescues continues to diminish as the storm approaches landfall and may be non-existent at the height of the storm," the military branch warned in a statement.
New Orleans on high-alert for dangerous flooding
New Orleans resident Ray Peters said he and his family are preparing for the worst. CBS News spoke to him as he loaded several heavy sandbags into his pickup to place around his home.
"We have the generator ready, my lights, my food, etc.," said Peters, who is one of many locals who survived Hurricane Katrina.
Forecasters said it is unlikely that Barry would become a ferocious hurricane, but some residents aren't taking any chances.
"I was here for Katrina. We had 23 feet of water here," one resident said. "I learned that lesson the hard way."
No mandatory evacuations were ordered in the city. Officials instead urged residents to shelter in place, while tourists have been instructed to take shelter in hotels. Many businesses in the city's popular French quarter are boarded up and closed.
-- Omar Villafranca reports from New Orleans
Landfall expected around 12 p.m. ET
CBS News lost power at a Morgan City hotel Saturday morning. Thousands of residents are without power throughout the city. The storm is crawling at 5 mph. Forecasters initially thought landfall would be at 7 a.m. ET. They now predict it will make landfall around 12 p.m. ET.
-- David Begnaud reports from Morgan City
FAA says it's "closely monitoring" storm
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement on Friday saying it was monitoring Tropical Storm Barry. "We are preparing facilities and equipment to withstand storm damage along the projected storm path so we can quickly resume disaster relief operations after it passes," the agency said.
The statement included tips for travelers who may be impacted by the storm. The FAA advises checking with airlines about flight statuses and taking every aspect of traveling into consideration, from parking and checking in to passing through security and boarding.
A notice was issued urging drone users to avoid flying in the area and outright barring those without remote certification or exemptions from flying.
Some Louisianans choosing to stay behind
President Trump's emergency declaration frees up more federal resources and will help coordinate the response to the looming disaster. Ahead of the storm, Louisiana residents in low-lying areas tied up boats, stocked up on supplies, prepared sandbags and got out Thursday.
"Anytime there is a disturbance it always disturbs me," Ken Smith said.
But some chose to stay behind. "Help people that need help, ride it out, party it up," one man said.
Begnaud reported that Grand Isle, one of the parishes ordered to evacuate, has five permanent drainage pumps and they've brought in six temporary pumps to help with the expected deluge.
FEMA personnel were already on the ground in Louisiana and 3,000 National Guard members were also called in to help.
New Orleans residents brace for flooding
In New Orleans, storm system improvements made after Hurricane Katrina are about to be put to the test.
In low-lying areas south of the city, some residents heeded the warnings: Stock up, pack up, and in some parishes and evacuate. The preparations included closing massive flood gates and tying shrimping boats down.
Storms that unleashed flash-flooding in New Orleans on Wednesday were a fresh reminder of what a deluge can do. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said drainage pumps are working but said, "We cannot pump our way out of the water levels and the waterfalls that are expected to hit."
All eyes are on the levees that protect the city. The forecasted crest was revised down to 17 feet and the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it did not expect any overtopping.