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Tropical Storm Barry rumbled across Louisiana on Sunday, heading north as it lashed the state with punishing rain and wind. The storm is expected to weaken throughout the day, but authorities still warned of "dangerous, life-threatening flooding" along with possible tornadoes.
- Tropical storm and storm surge warnings were in effect for large swaths of Louisiana on Sunday.
- "The Mississippi is [the river] that's levee'd and doesn't pose a threat," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said at a news briefing. "Every other river poses a threat to flooding."
- Forecasters expected Barry's center to move through the western parts of central and northern Louisiana throughout the day and then over Arkansas late in the day and Monday.
NEW ORLEANS - Tropical Storm Barry continued to slowly grind across Louisiana on Sunday, dropping pounding rainfall on a large swath of the state as it moved north. The storm is expected to weaken throughout the day, forecasters said, but could still bring "dangerous, life-threatening flooding" along with possible tornadoes.
A day after touching down on the Louisiana coast - becoming the first hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season - Barry was shifting toward the north, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center reported Sunday morning that Barry's center would "move across the western portion of central and northern Louisiana today, and over Arkansas tonight and Monday."
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Even as the storm loses power, its slow path north is expected to wreak havoc, with the hurricane center warning of dangerous storm surges, flooding as water moves inland, swollen rivers and rainfall reaching 20 inches in some areas.
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"This rainfall is expected to lead to dangerous, life-threatening flooding," the hurricane center warned.
Follow the path of the storm with MSN's hurricane tracker
The Louisiana National Guard had nearly 3,000 soldiers deployed around the state, authorities said. State troopers were also poised across the state, along with a panoply of local first responders. Officials had stressed that the possibility of flooding caused by Barry remained a dire threat.
"We are not, in any way, out of the woods," New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said at a news briefing that while the Mississippi River has levees "and doesn't pose a threat," he added: "Every other river poses a threat to flooding."
The Comite River is expected to crest higher than it did during the destructive floods of 2016; the Amite could also be well above flood stage. In Morgan City on the Atchafalaya River, rain and wind were already downing trees and power lines Saturday, leaving more than 6,000 in the dark, according to David Naquin of the St. Mary Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
One couple had to be rescued from their trailer, Naquin said, after live wires fell onto it so they dared not touch the metal door handles.
In New Orleans, officials expressed confidence in the flood-mitigation system built to protect the city after Hurricane Katrina. Cabdriver Harold Nolan said he was relieved the city seems to have escaped the worst effects of the storm. He said he and other longtime New Orleans residents could sense days ago that weather forecasters were needlessly "hyping" the storm before its arrival.
"I think a lot of the media overplayed this," Nolan said. "I just can't see that they didn't see that this storm was going to bypass most of New Orleans, even if it is wreaking havoc on other parts of Louisiana right now."
Cantrell, the mayor, had asked residents to remain sheltered in their homes throughout the weekend, declining to put in place a curfew, which she said would require additional resources.
On the Lafourche Parish side of Des Allemands, a town about 40 minutes southwest of New Orleans, residents living along the Bayou Des Allemands warily eyed the choppy water Saturday evening.
"The water's not high yet, but if it rises three feet they say it'll be over the levee," said George Toney, 31, who lives directly across the street from the boat-lined bayou. "Our stance now is we look like we're going to be good, so we're not worried like we were the last few days. But we've got to be ready like anybody. We all got our bags packed in case we have to leave, but for now we're staying put." A low-lying area in Belle Chasse, La., is flooded on Saturday. (Emily Kask for The Washington Post)
Down the road, Mark Fonseca's property sits directly on the bayou. Fonseca, 47, spent Saturday morning stacking sandbags on top of the small levee wall he built with rocks, clay, and dirt last year.
"If we don't keep the water out of here, everybody in the neighborhood will flood," he explained. "I built the levee so I don't have to sandbag so much anymore. I'm getting older." Fonseca, a blue crab, catfish and alligator fisherman, has lived in this house his entire life. "The water table is a lot higher than when I was younger," he said. "We're supposed to be losing coast land every year, and the water comes up quicker now than it used to."
On Saturday, the bayou, though high, was not testing Fonseca's levee.
"I'm not really worried about no water damage or nothing, but then again the storm is going so slow," he said. "We're taking it day by day right now. Simple as that. We're basically just watching."
Berman reported from Washington. Ashley Cusick in Des Allemands contributed to this report.