Wind and rain began to hit the coast of the Gulf of Louisiana early Friday as residents prepared for what should be the first hurricane of the season.
President Trump declared the state of emergency in Louisiana on Thursday night, authorizing the federal disaster relief efforts of Tropical Storm Barry.
PRESIDENT TRUMP DECLARES EMERGENCY STATE IN LOUISIANA AND SENDS FEDERAL AID TO THE TROPICAL BARRY ORIGIN
A hurricane warning was in effect along the coast of Louisiana, and forecasters said the storm could land as a hurricane by early Saturday.
Storm rains should be a severe test of improved New Orleans defenses after Katrina floods. According to forecasts, Barry will bring more than a foot and a half of rain in some parts of the state as he slowly moves inland.
National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said pockets of Louisiana could receive up to 25 inches of rain.
"So here's the delivery: a dangerous situation," he said at an online presentation Thursday. "This kind of rain in this system could cause flash floods, a build-up of water."
National Guard troops and rescue teams were stationed around the state with boats and vehicles on the high seas. Helicopters were also on standby and supplies including drinking water and blankets, were ready for distribution, said the Guard.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that the storm could form a dangerous combination with the already-high Mississippi River, which has been swollen by heavy rains and snowmelt upstream this spring.
"Louisiana can flood three ways: storm surge, high rivers and rain," Edwards said. "We are going to have all three."
He added that the authorities did not expect the Mississippi River to spill over its dikes, but warned that a change in direction or intensity of the storm could alter this situation.
By early Friday, Barry was about 80 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi, with winds of about 50 mph.
The southeastern tip of Louisiana was to suffer the first blow, and many had taken into account evacuation orders targeting 10,000 people in Plaquemines parish, leaving communities almost empty Thursday afternoon.
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Clarence Brocks, 65, and his family were among the last to leave the city of Phoenix. The native of Plaquemines parish was evacuated several times and had to be rebuilt after Katrina destroyed his house. But he said that he would not want to live anywhere else, despite the annual threat of hurricanes.
"I was born and grew up here – it's all I know," said the Air Force veteran. "I've been all over the world and guess where I want to be – right here."
Frank Miles, Associated Press and Frank News, Fox News, contributed to this report.