Officials expect severe weather after New Orleans faced battering flood waters on Wednesday
New Orleans residents are working to recover from damaging flood waters that halted traffic and consumed streets this week, but authorities say more severe weather could be on the way.
A possible hurricane could strike the area as early as Friday, potentially causing the Mississippi River to swell to the capacity of the city’s protective levees, CBS News reports. The storm system is expected to turn into a tropical depression by Thursday, a tropical storm named Barry by Thursday night and a “weak” hurricane by Friday, according to the outlet.
“Heed every single warning that comes from the City of New Orleans. Be prepared for the impacts,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell warned in a tweet on Wednesday. “This is the time to help us clear debris. We are monitoring levels of the Mississippi River. We are monitoring the potential threat of a Tropical Cyclone Two.”
Forecasters said the state could see up to 12 inches of rain by Monday, with remote areas seeing as much as 18, according to CBS. The severe warnings began Wednesday as rain battered New Orleans. The fast-moving waters even moved into hotels and other businesses.
“I must have got to work about a quarter to 7,” Donald Smith, whose restaurant on Basin Street was flooded, told CBS. “By 7:15, water was everywhere.”
Photos from the flooding showed people carrying children through knee-deep waters and trash cans floating in the flooded streets.
Officials in New Orleans are asking residents to keep at least three days of supplies in their homes and keep storm drains clear so flood waters can move quickly, according to the Associated Press.
Chandris Rethmeyer lost her car after being caught in the flood while on her way home from working an overnight shift, she told the AP. She waded through about 4 feet of water to get to safety.
“I was going to sit in my car and let the storm pass,” she told the AP. “But I reached back to get my son’s iPad and put my hand into a puddle of water.”
Valerie R. Burton told the AP that she was in her home when she spotted the high waters outside.
“There was about 3 to 4 feet of water in the street, pouring onto the sidewalks and at my door. So I went to my neighbors to alert them and tell them to move their cars,” she said.
Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated rigs and platforms as a result of the weather, KATC reported. And more than 20,000 customers in New Orleans were left without power on Thursday, according to Entergy New Orleans. Buses and streetcars were also at a standstill on Wednesday, NOLA.com reported.
“DO NOT DRIVE IN FLOOD WATERS Wakes cause damage to cars, homes and businesses,” Mayor Cantrell warned in a tweet on Wednesday.
She added in another post: “It is still too soon to tell what the impact will be, but we believe there will be an impact. It is never too early to prepare.”
Texas and Mississippi are also at risk of severe rainfall.