Building toward hurricane strength, Tropical Storm Barry began hitting Louisiana with wind and rain Friday as it closed in for what could be a long, slow — and epic — drenching that could trigger flooding in and around New Orleans.
With the storm expected to blow ashore by early Saturday as the first hurricane of the season, National Guard troops and rescue crews were posted around the state with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. Drinking water was lined up. Utility repair crews with bucket trucks moved into position in the region. And homeowners sandbagged their property or packed up and left.
“This is happening. … Your preparedness window is shrinking,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned. He added: “It’s powerful. It’s strengthening. And water is going to be a big issue.”
Forecasters said Barry could unload 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge as well as southwestern Mississippi, with pockets in Louisiana getting 25 inches (63 centimeters). Some low-lying roads near the coast were already covered with water Friday morning as the tide rose and the storm pushed water in from the Gulf of Mexico.
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