Despite widespread flooding, Louisiana spared brunt of Barry’s wrath

Despite widespread flooding, Louisiana spared brunt of Barry’s wrath
Copyright 2019 CNN
From Morgan City, Louisiana across Mississippi and Alabama, the Gulf Coast is dealing with flooding from Barry.

You can’t tell from looking at the streets still under water, but the Gulf Coast got lucky with this storm.

Barry, which made landfall as a hurricane Saturday, quickly turned into a tropical storm and has been inundating Louisiana ever since.

Even as a weaker tropical depression Monday, Barry is still dumping heavy rain on parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, prompting a wave of new flash flood watches.

But fears of devastating storm surges and catastrophic flooding didn’t materialize. There are a few reasons for that, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

“The storm surge in the populated areas like New Orleans didn’t rise to the level to cause major problems,” he said. “That being said, there was surge to 7 feet in a few areas, which was actually higher than forecast.”

As for the flooding, “this was a very strange hurricane — I think the strangest I have ever covered,” Hennen said.

“Most of the moisture, where the 20-plus inches of rain occurred, stayed out in the Gulf of Mexico for longer than expected. By the time it did move inland, the storm had weakened, so the rainfall totals were held down. Unlike Hurricane Harvey, which was an over-performer, this storm was a bit of an under-performer.”

But the threat of flooding isn’t over.

‘Dangerous flash flooding’ still to come

Barry is expected to drop another 4 to 6 inches of rain Monday on central Louisiana and southwestern tip of Mississippi.

“Dangerous flash flooding is likely across this area this morning,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky will get hit with another 2 to 4 inches of rain.

All that new rain means Barry will leave some places with a total of 15 inches of rain by the time the storm’s remnants move into the Ohio Valley by midweek.

“It’s really a one-two punch for places like New Orleans and Baton Rouge,” CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.

But Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’s “extremely grateful that the forecasted rains and flooding did not materialize.” He said all state offices are open Monday, except in three parishes where there are still power outages.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said many staples of city life would resume Monday, including public transportation and garbage services.

Overwhelmed levees

While not as destructive as feared, Barry did overwhelm some levees and cause widespread power outages.

Several parishes, including Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson and St. Mary, got flooded when water overtopped levees Saturday.

Barry also forced the closure of 16 roads and 24 bridges over the weekend, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary said.

And more than 153,000 electricity customers across Louisiana lost power due to heavy winds and downed trees Sunday.

Entergy Louisiana said it brought in crews from all over the country to help restore power.

The storm ‘sounded like a train’

The Louisiana coastal community of Isle de Jean Charles has already lost 98% of its land — and that was before Barry hit.

After the storm made landfall Saturday, some residents were still stranded Sunday as high floodwater forced roads to stay closed.

At the Pac Shack restaurant, owner Amanda Ekiss said the water was over 10 feet high this weekend.

In another island community, Iberia Parish, strong winds destroyed buildings, leaving some down to the studs.

Joseph Colbert said he was in his carport with his brother when the walls of his home were ripped off by heavy winds Saturday night.

“The wind was blowing real hard,” he said. “It sounded like a train to me.”

By Sunday morning, his roof had also disappeared, leaving his home of 40 years uninhabitable.

But he had one huge consolation: “We got our lives.”

CNN’s Haley Brink, Darran Simon, Natasha Chen, Matt Gannon and Pamela Kirkland contributed to this report.