Storm Barry's threat to New Orleans heightened by climate change

ABC Action News tracks tropical developments in the Atlantic

Don't expect moviegoers in Louisiana's Gulf Coast to head to Sam Raimi's Category 5 hurricane/alligator movie Crawl this weekend, or any title for that matter.

"We're going to have all three", Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday in a news conference.

For now, her main concern is for her friends and neighbors who lived through Hurricane Katrina, the deadly 2005 storm that still looms large in the minds of many residents, she told CNN. "This is all I know", the Air Force veteran said. "But we didn't lose everything because we still had our lives and our health".

Usually at 6 to 8 feet this time of year around the Big Easy, the river is at 16 feet after a year of record flooding, and Barry could push in a storm surge of 2 to 3 feet. And because it's a very slow-moving system which could stay in the area longer than usual, authorities are warning residents to brace for serious rainfall and widespread flooding, posing a huge potential test of New Orleans' flood defenses.

Vehicles make their way on I-10 as bands of rain from Tropical Storm Barry from the Gulf of Mexico move into New Orleans yesterday.

"Look, there are three ways that Louisiana floods: storm surge, high rivers and rain. We're taking this seriously and I do believe in the power of prayer as well".

So the state's governor is telling folks to get ready and not wait until the last moment.

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Edwards warned of a risky combination with the already-high Mississippi River, which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring.

Parts of the region could get up to 25 inches of rainfall. They piled up "stoplogs", or metal beams, and topped them with sheet metal to add height to Harvey Lock, a break in the levee across the river from the city's Lower 9th Ward, which was all but wiped out during Katrina.

While street flooding seemed probable, officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insisted that significant breaching of the 20-foot-tall levees in New Orleans was unlikely. This will result in only a few showers on Friday but lots of blistering heat the next several days as the storm moves slowly northward.

"We're trying to evacuate and get all of our family members up and go to St. Bernard Parish", he said.

While 10,000 people or more in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf coast were told to leave, no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where city officials instead urged residents to "shelter in place" starting at 8pm.

National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott warned a news conference: "Tropical Storm Barry is a unsafe and life-threatening storm".

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