NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Barry rolled into the Louisiana coast Saturday, flooding highways, forcing people to scramble to rooftops and dumping heavy rain that officials had feared could test the levees and pumps that were bolstered after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.
After briefly becoming a Category 1 hurricane, the system weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of New Orleans, the National Hurricane Center said.
By early evening, New Orleans had been spared the worst effects, receiving only light showers and gusty winds. A National Weather Service forecaster said the city may escape with only 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain. But officials warned that Barry could still cause disastrous flooding across a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast and drop up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) through Sunday across other parts of Louisiana.
“This is just the beginning,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “It’s going to be a long several days for our state.”
The Coast Guard rescued a dozen people from flooded areas of Terrebonne Parish, south of New Orleans, some of them from rooftops, a spokeswoman said. The people included a 77-year-old man who called for help because he had about 4 feet (1.2 meters) of water in his home.
None of the main levees on the Mississippi River failed or were breached, Edwards said. But a levee in Terrebonne Parish was overtopped by water, officials said. And video showed water getting over a second levee in Plaquemines Parish, where fingers of land extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico. Terrebonne Parish ordered a new evacuation affecting an estimated 400 people.