15:33 GMT +320 July 2019
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    People walk past Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter before landfall of Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans, La., Friday, July 12, 2019.

    Tropical Storm Barry to Hit Louisiana with ‘Life Threatening Flooding’ (Photos, Videos)

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    Tropical Storm Barry began hitting Louisiana with wind and rain Friday and is forecast to make landfall in full early Saturday, when it is expected to strengthen into a hurricane and cause torrential downpours.

    On Friday, Louisiana residents began filling up their cars with gas and stocking up on food to prepare for the storm, which is expected to result in surges and floods, particularly along the Mississippi River. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has asked residents to find shelter by 8 p.m. local time, shortly after floods inundated the streets of downtown New Orleans as heavy thunderstorms hit the region Wednesday.

    ​"Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches over southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, with isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches," according to the National Hurricane Center. "These rains are expected to lead to dangerous, life-threatening flooding over portions of the central Gulf Coast into the Lower Mississippi Valley."

    According to officials, the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts may get up to 20 inches of rain, while flash flooding may occur in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The storm is also now producing 65-mph winds. According to the National Hurricane Center, a Category 1 hurricane is defined as having 74-mph sustained winds. As a result, hurricane warnings have been issued from the south of Lafayette to the south of New Orleans.

    ​“This is happening. ... Your preparedness window is shrinking,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned Friday. “It’s powerful. It’s strengthening. And water is going to be a big issue,” he added.

    ​New Orleans relies heavily on its pump-and-levee protection system, due to the fact that part of the city lies below sea level, leaving it vulnerable to floods. 

    Ghassan Korban, the executive director for New Orleans’ Sewerage & Water Board, warned Thursday that the city could experience “a repeat” of the flooding seen Wednesday.

    ​“We have antiquated and old equipment that, again, stand to serve the city,” Korban noted, the New York Times reported. “They are fragile.”

    On Friday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and said that 3,000 National Guard members are preparing for Tropical Storm Barry.

    "Heed the warnings," Edwards said, advising people to stay off the roads and avoid driving through floodwater.

    "It's deeper than they believe it to be, and also there's current that sometimes is imperceptible," he said. "We need individuals to not drive through standing water."

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    flooding, Louisiana, New Orleans, United States
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