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New Orleans faces unprecedented problem with Tropical Storm Barry

At the same time, Barry is spinning in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening a storm surge at the mouth of the river, said Jeffrey Graschel, hydrologist at the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center. in Slidell, Louisiana.

The unusual confluence of factors added to a forecast that the river should peak at 19 feet on Saturday, a level not seen since February 1950 and about 2.3 feet from the record set in April 1922, the service announced on Thursday. meteorological.

"It's the first time we have a tropical system with such high water levels on the river," he said.

The prediction rattles residents' nerves, also concerned about the 10 inches of rain that Barry could dump before he leaves, said CNN senior meteorologist Dave Hennen. This deluge would follow the 9 inches fell Wednesday in New Orleans, flooding part of the city.

Mandatory evacuations in at least 2 parishes

Barry, which will be the first tropical system to hit the United States this year, is moving slowly, announced the meteorological service. Residents of the Mississippi coast and lower valley could be hit by heavy rainfall throughout the weekend and early next week, with flash floods, river floods and storm surges.

"Look, there are three ways in which Louisiana is flooded: storm surge, high rivers and rain," Governor John Bel Edwards said Thursday. "We are going to have all three."

Emergency conditions have been declared in the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Charles. Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish have instituted mandatory evacuations as a precaution in low-lying areas or off large dikes.
David Fox calls on Wednesday, July 10 in his business located on Poydras Street in New Orleans.

Authorities should close dozens of flood gates to help mitigate flood risks, said Antwan Harris, spokeswoman for the Southeast Louisiana East Flood Protection Authority, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has deployed staff and supplies to gatherings in Louisiana and Texas. declaration.

"The people of the Gulf Coast must now prepare for heavy rains, floods and the impacts of high winds, whatever the category of this storm," FEMA said.

In New Orleans, 118 of the city's 120 pumps draining neighborhoods are in good working order, said Sewer and Water Authority spokeswoman Courtney Barnes. The two, which are not, are relatively small, she said, and are in stations with other pumps operating in the Lakeview area and New Orleans East.

Nevertheless, the system of pumps, underground pipes and canals is designed to remove only 1 inch of rainwater during the first hour of a storm and half an inch in the following hours. He simply could not keep up with Wednesday's rain, Barnes said, noting that any system in the country would have been overtaken.

"There is no system designed to pump this rain capacity," she said.

"The real storm has not been touched"

Some residents do not take risks.

Dannie Davis from New Orleans is going to evacuate, she said Thursday. She was hit by the floods on Wednesday "and the real storm did not even hit," she said.

Why New Orleans is exposed to floods: it flows

"I have not seen so much rain and floods before a hurricane for a while," she said. "Who knows what will happen and if the city will be able to handle it."

Another resident, Claire Grogan, was also planning an evacuation.

For 40 years, she lives in the French Quarter, a few blocks from the Mississippi, has never been afraid. Now it has changed.

"The river is so high that I'm just scared to stay," said Grogan, adding that as a business owner, she also wanted her employees to have the opportunity to go away. they wished it.

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