NEW ORLEANS – The widespread flooding that flooded Wednesday many parts of New Orleans has astonished even long-time residents of a city that often resists hurricanes and tropical storms.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared the state of emergency due to "intense thunderstorms and the potential for tropical winds or hurricanes and other thunderstorms".
"New Orleans could face severe localized floods and gale force winds that could endanger and threaten lives, injuries and property damage," said Cantrell.
Early in the morning, the city had stopped the work of non-essential employees, as streets and sidewalks began to fill with water under the effect of constant rain. The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans said the city had received more than eight inches of rain in three hours.
"The rain of this morning has fallen at an extraordinary rate," the agency wrote on Twitter. "For example, during Mother's Day, we received 4.5 inches in 3 hours, almost double today.
NEW ORLEANS, GULF COAST FACING THE THREAT OF A POSSIBLE FLOOD OF BARRY TROPICAL
Resident Jena Smith said she was lucky not to have been flooded, but it was an urgent call for her.
"I left my house early and went to the office, otherwise all my car would have been under water," she said. "All the others got stuck in the whole city. It's just crazy. "
The Mississippi River, which runs through the city, has been choked for months as snowmelt and precipitation descend from the Midwest. Smith is worried about the floods caused by high water levels and the strengthening of the tropical system that is developing along the Gulf Coast and could turn into a Category 1 hurricane.
"It's a bit disconcerting to know the height of the river," Smith said as he watched the Mississippi River. "With the river so high and pumping stations causing problems, areas of cities that have never been flooded are flooding now."
CLOSE TO THE COASTAL GULF OF THE TOXIC ALGAE OF BLOOM FORCES
Wayne Harris, visiting Toronto, said that he was a fan of the rain. However, he really wanted to enjoy his weeklong vacation in New Orleans in the sun. He hoped that the meteorological system in the direction of the city would not stay long.
"A few days would not bother me, but it would be nice if it disappeared two days ago so that we could make many more visits and things," he said.
Her friend Cathy Ross said she was much less excited about the imminent storm.
"[We have] a lot of visits and things planned and I want to be able to go out and do what we planned and what we paid, "she said.
In the town of Gert, locals swept away the debris that heavy rains had brought home. The streets were flooded with water that had slowly started to drain into the sewers.
"This is nothing compared to the height of the water," said a resident who identified herself as being just Nancy, while she was pointing to a water pipe from a height of about one foot.
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Smith said the idea of a new Hurricane Katrina-like disaster had crossed her mind, but she remains optimistic. Otherwise, she says, you have to let the tropical system run its course.
"I think the people of New Orleans understand, you're just riding with her, take precautions and that's all you can do."