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Residents brace for flooding threat in New Orleans

CBS News logo CBS News 7/12/2019 Manuel Bojorquez
a bus driving down a city street: A flooded area is seen in New Orleans © Social Media A flooded area is seen in New Orleans

New Orleans — The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Louisiana coast as Tropical Storm Barry threatens to blow ashore. Heavy rains and a dangerous storm surge are expected.

In response, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. In New Orleans, storm system improvements made after Hurricane Katrina are about to be put to the test.

In low-lying areas south of New Orleans, some residents heeded the warnings: Stock up, pack up, and in some parishes and evacuate. The preparations also include closing massive flood gates and tying shrimping boats down.

In New Orleans, storms that unleashed flash-flooding 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."

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All eyes are on the levees that protect the city. The forecasted crest was revised down to 19 feet and the Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it does not expect any overtopping.

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Sandy Rosenthal, an Army Corps critic who lived through Katrina, said no one should let their guard down.

"A model is exactly that, it's an educated guess. If it goes exactly as planned, hopefully this water won't overtop, but it might not go as planned," Rosenthal said.

In Plaquemines Parish, there are some mandatory evacuations. Some are using ferries to get out ahead of the storm. From there, you can see how swollen and swift the Mississippi River already is well before the storm comes ashore.

President Trump tweeted late Thursday urging residents in the storm's path to follow directions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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