Barry blog: Port of New Orleans reopens despite Barry's landfall

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Sandbags line the outside of an office building in anticipation of Tropical Storm Barry on July 12, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

HOUSTON - KPRC2 reporters Jonathan Martinez and Brandon Walker are in Louisiana covering Barry. We'll share updates from them and other weather-related news around the storm in this blog. 

Sunday, 3:16 p.m.: Heading home

Packed up and heading home. After three days of tracking Barry, we're heading back home to Houston.

We leave behind a hotel that unfortunately was still with power along with with other parts of New Iberia and Jeanerette.

Through the night, there was plenty of more rain and strong gusts that hit the area thanks to tropical storm Barry.

Fortunately, we hadn't heard of any reports of serious injuries or major problems according to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s office as of this morning.

When daylight broke, we made our way back to Jeanerette where we were last night to get a better look at some of the damage. Sadly, there were a handful of homes that had trees topple onto them causing quite a bit damage and in some cases destroying them.

Along the drive, we also encountered several trees on power lines and scattered tree limbs across roads. We also came across some high water spots. 

Now wrapped up, we're making the drive to Texas, but not before making a stop in Scott, LA to pick up some boudin at a favorite hot spot called Billy's.

A few red bulls later, we're about halfway home with a little drizzle on the horizon -- but all should be smooth sailing.

It's been quite the experience to cover Barry, and while he's still slowly making his way across the area, it's good to see folks are fairing somewhat better than expected. 

- Jonathan Martinez

Sunday, 11:45 a.m.: Damage in Louisiana

Jonathan Martinez visited Jeanerette, LA to get a better idea of some of the damage caused by tropical storm Barry and found topped trees and flooding problems.

 

 

Sunday, 11:30 a.m.: Port of New Orleans reopens

The Port of New Orleans reopened Sunday morning, albeit with some restrictions.

Specific information can be found here.

"Even while the storm was still approaching landfall, we were making preparations to reopen our ports and restore critical infrastructure and marine transportation systems as quickly as possible after it passed," said Capt. Kristi Luttrell, Sector New Orleans commander. "Along with the safety of the public and first responders, restoration of maritime commerce was one of our top priorities."

Early preparation and communication between federal, state, local, and industry partners helped minimize the potential for damage in the New Orleans Captain of the Port zone, according to the Coast Guard.

Sunday, 9:30 a.m.: New Orleans, Baton Rouge not ignoring Barry

Flood gates in New Orleans reopened Sunday after the city was spared from flooding initially forecast to come from Tropical Storm Barry.

The reopenings mean things are getting back to normal in the Crescent City, although more rain remains in the forecast Sunday.

In Baton Rouge, area leaders are keeping an eye on the Amite and Comite rivers, which are expected to rise near flood level by Tuesday. While the rivers' forecast includes a flood risk, projected crest points continue to lower, as the storm loses its might.

- Brandon Walker

Sunday, 6 a.m.: Baton Rouge avoids Barry's wrath, for now

Brandon Walker reports from Baton Rouge on Sunday morning.

Sunday, 1:30 a.m.: First responders ready to act

What a day of tracking! Barry’s impact was pretty much felt the entire day in New Iberia with strong winds and a whole lot of rain.

While there, we met up with first responders who were stationed in a Lowe’s parking lot awaiting a call for service of any types. The team was decked out with high-water rescue vehicles along with boats, in case they needed to go out and pull people to safety.

We hit the road after gathering several elements to put our story together and went out venturing for more potential damage across the area. And it wasn’t long before we stumbled across some damage along Highway 90 when we left New Iberia. That’s where we found strong winds had toppled over a shed that landed on powerlines and nearly brought them completely down. State police had the area blocked off and were waiting for a crew to bring out barricades to ensure nobody drove down the unsafe road.

The other half of our day was spent driving about 30 minutes away to a place called Jeanerette. While there, we saw several trees that had toppled over onto homes. In some cases, they were destroyed and others were badly damaging. In fact, we’re told one person was trapped as a result of a tree coming down and had to be rescued by firefighters along with the help of the neighbors.

As we call it a night, it’s only fitting that I’m writing this blog entry in the dark as the power has since gone out at our hotel in New Iberia. We had seen the lights flickering on and off throughout the day, but it looks like a portion of the grid on this side of town is all but completely out.

Early Sunday morning we plan to reassess the situation and find out if will be heading back to Houston or if the floodwaters and rain caused significant damage to keep us around a little while longer. Nevertheless, we’re safe tonight and in for the evening. We’re also saying extra prayers for the people living along the coast to Louisiana.

- Jonathan Martinez

Saturday, 10:30 p.m.: Storm brings flooding to parts of Louisiana

As Barry continues to batter the Louisiana coast, the community's in the crosshair anxiously await. 

The winds so strong, they blew this shed onto power lines along Highway 90.

"Oh boy, it's been rough it's been kinda rough and stuff like that it's been raining who is been raining," said Rodney Allen, a Jeanerette resident.

The sight of debris, now a familiar one along with several snapped trees that came crashing into homes in Jeanerette where people had to be rescued.

"They got a tree right over here the termites eat a whole lot of it and it fell on a trailer got to suspended under the tree," said Tony Rochon, who helped rescue a person from a home.

Other parts of the state also dealing with the brunt of Barry.

The coast guard along with other agencies having to rescue a dozen people and 2 pets from dangerous floodwaters in Terrebonne, Parish.

As Louisiana takes a beating from the storm, federal and state officials say the main levees along the Mississippi are holding.

With more rain and strong winds expected residents along the coast, being warned stay put.... as first responders also pray they stay safe.

"We always hoping for no fatalities and we pray that we can come back and rebuild these peoples homes," said Fernest Martin, Jeanerette City Marshal.

Saturday, 7:30 p.m.: Weakened Barry rolls into Louisiana, drenches Gulf Coast 

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 (257km) west of New Orleans, with its winds falling to 70 mph (112km), the National Hurricane Center said.

By early evening, New Orleans had been spared the worst effects, receiving only light showers and gusty winds. 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 cm) of rain through Sunday across a part of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: Many businesses already closed, or choosing to close early ahead of the storm's arrival. 

Saturday, 5:30 p.m.: Barry floods highways, forces people to scramble to rooftops and dumps heavy rain

 

Saturday, 2:40 p.m.: Residents staring to see stronger wind gusts and rain

Today we're posting up in New Iberia as we await Barry's arrival.

Many of the businesses in the area are already closed for the day or are planning to close early before the storm gets here.

We spoke to first responders who are set up in a business parking lot with high water rescue vehicles along with boats. They are waiting to see if they need to go out and rescue anyone.

The biggest concern first responders have now, in addition to strong wind gusts, is the potential for a lot of rain and the possibility of flooding. 

 

 

Over the last few days it's been on and off again light rain and a few gust, we're finally starting to see a lot more of the rain and much stronger wind gusts with the worst of it expected over the course of the next few hours. 

- Jonathan Martinez

Saturday, 1 p.m.: Barry makes landfall

The storm made landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, about 160 miles west of New Orleans, and it weakened to a tropical storm with its winds falling to 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Saturday, 12:10 p.m.: No levees breached yet

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says none of the main levees on the Mississippi River in the state has failed or been breached so far because of Tropical Storm Barry.

But he warned at a news conference on Saturday that the storm is just beginning and the state faces significant threats in the days ahead.

Authorities have previously said water was flowing over the tops of a few levees in areas south of New Orleans. But those are not the main levees protecting the Mississippi River.

Saturday, 10:53 a.m.: Water continues to rise in Louisiana

We've moved to low-lying areas of Jefferson Parish, which are without levee protection. The high tide pushed water from a swollen Bayou Barataria onto Highway 45. The further south you drive, the more the road resembles a river. While a mandatory evacuation order remains in place, some stayed home. Neighbors said flooding comes with living along a bayou. 

Still, with water continuing to rise, some who stayed are now trying to get out. A high water rescue truck carried a dozen or so people from the town of Lafitte.

Saturday, 10:10 a.m.: Barry is a hurricane

Barry, the storm threatening the Louisiana coast, has strengthened to a hurricane.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 10 a.m. Saturday advisory that Barry had reached maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, with higher gusts.

Hurricane-force winds were measured some 45 miles to the east of the storm's center, which was located 40 miles south of Lafayette, Louisiana. It was moving northwest at 6 mph.

Weather forecasters said a hurricane warning is in effect for Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. Such a warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area.

Saturday, 8:57 a.m.: Hurricane Center director: Barry rains 'off the chart' 

National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said Tropical Storm Barry is gathering "a big slough of moisture" just off the central Louisiana coast and is taking its time to come ashore Saturday morning, meaning "a lot of rain is on the way."

Graham delivered a storm update using Facebook Live from the hurricane center, where he pointed to a computer screen showing a big swirling mess of airborne water. "That is just an amazing amount of moisture," he said. "That is off the chart."

He said the storm is moving so slowly that heavy rain will likely continue throughout the weekend across Louisiana. He said the highest tornado threat is on the east side of the storm, along the Mississippi coast, and Mobile Bay. And the Mississippi River isn't the only waterway to worry about: He says other rivers and creeks will be overflowing across several states.

Graham reminded viewers that "83 percent of fatalities from these systems have been from inland rain. So let's stay off the roads. Let's prevent these preventable fatalities."

Saturday, 7:42 a.m.: Rescues from Louisiana island

The Coast Guard says it is in the process of rescuing more than a dozen people stranded on a remote Louisiana island by flooding from Tropical Storm Barry.

Petty Officer Lexie Preston said some of the people were on rooftops Saturday on the Isle de Jean Charles, about 45 miles south of New Orleans.

Preston told The Associated Press the rescue is ongoing and four people and a cat have been taken from the island on a helicopter. She said a boat is also heading to the area to help get the rest of the people off the island.

Preston says she does not know the condition of the people rescued.

Saturday, 7:05 am.; Waiting for Barry in New Orleans

New Orleans hopes Barry will skirt past it. The storm is expected to make landfall Saturday morning near Morgan City. Still, flooding in the Crescent City remains a concern. The city is on the east side, or the dirty side, of the storm. 

Conditions were mild, if not calm Saturday morning in downtown New Orleans. Palm trees along Canal Street swayed in the wind.  

The biggest development overnight is good news: the Mississippi River is now forecast to crest at 17 feet, 2 feet less than initially predicted. There were concerns some levees wouldn't be able to hold water from the river, which is uncharacteristically high for this time of year. 

- Brandon Walker

 

 

Saturday, 6:00 a.m.: Power outages for southern Louisiana

Officials predicted Barry would make landfall as this year's first hurricane Saturday morning near Morgan City, west of New Orleans, where a curfew has been set until 6 a.m. and a long day started with on and off rain, power outages and people using cellphones to see in the dark and opening doors and windows to let the warm, sticky tropical air circulate.

As dawn approached Saturday, more than 45,000 people in southern Louisiana had lost power. The edges of the storm lashed Louisiana and coastal Mississippi and Alabama with rain, leaving some roads underwater overnight.
 

Friday, 11:32 p.m.: Hoping Barry 'goes about its merry way'

We hopscotched across the coast Friday, starting our day in New Iberia and headed towards Cypremort Point about a half an hour south. While there, we spoke with a gentleman by the name of Don Meaux Sr. who's been tracking storms since hurricane Rita hit back 2005. On a board in front of his home, he's marked off the water lines of how high the water has gotten, with plans to likely add another line depending on what tropical storm Barry does.

"You know we love it out here so much that the risk is not enough to make us move on into town. It's just part of the package," Don Meaux Sr. said.

From there, we went to Morgan City which is expected to be along part of the path as the storm comes through. While there we found a tree that had toppled over onto a home because of strong wind gusts. Fortunately the homeowner was OK and there was no major damage.

We also caught up with one of the few places in downtown that was still open, a restaurant that up until Friday night had reservations being made until the power went out.

"We're hoping that it comes across doesn't do a lot of damage leaves us safely in one piece and goes about its merry way," JoAnn Blanchard, the manager at the restaurant said.

We're making our way back to New Iberia where we plan to stay overnight as we prepare for Saturday's landfall by Barry which could still potentially turn into a Category 1 hurricane.

- Jonathan Martinez

Friday, 10:15 p.m.: Barry expected to make landfall Saturday morning

The Louisiana coast is bracing for Barry's landfall, which is expected Saturday morning.

Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Louisiana braces for Barry's landfall

Jonathan Martinez is in Morgan City seeing how residents are preparing for Barry.

 

 

Friday, 2:40 p.m.: Houston pitches in

Mayor Sylvester Turner's office on Friday announced a Houston Relief Hub and a call for donations ranging from diapers to batteries to bottled water. The statement says relief items will be delivered directly to New Orleans.

A city of Houston tweet says some residents were "preparing to help our neighbors in New Orleans and the greater Louisiana area" as Barry headed toward the coast.

Friday, 1:15 p.m.: Rice University hosts displaced summer camp

More than 120 children from across the U.S. attending a summer program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge have been evacuated to Texas amid concerns about flooding as Tropical Storm Barry approaches Louisiana's coast.

A Rice University statement says the middle and high school students were brought by bus overnight to the campus in Houston and arrived around 4 a.m. Friday.

Friday, 11:53 a.m.: Federal emergency declared

President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts.

Friday, 11:35 a.m.: Shelter-in-place, voluntary evacuations urged

As Tropical Storm Barry approaches the state's coast, tourists in New Orleans are being asked to "shelter in place" in their hotels if they don't have confirmed airline reservations for flights out of the city.

A voluntary evacuation has been called for a Louisiana parish near Tropical Storm Barry's expected landfall Saturday.

St. Mary Parish President David Hanagriff says many people have already left areas below the Intracoastal Waterway, where a voluntary evacuation was called Thursday. He says Friday's voluntary evacuation was called after the storm's predicted course shifted a bit west, putting the parish on the storm's rainy eastern side.

Friday, 9:20 a.m.: Louisianan National Guard troops activated

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has activated 3,000 National Guardsmen, in anticipation of Barry's landfall. In Plaquemines Parish, which is south of New Orleans, we spotted them in action. Most of Plaquemines Parish is under a mandatory evacuation order.

KPRC

National Guard troops load a vehicle in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana as the area prepares for the landfall of Tropical Storm Barry on July 12, 2019.

Gary Radelat is among those to pack up his camp and leave Happy Jack. That's near Port Sulphur, in Plaquemines Parish. 

 

 

-- Brandon Walker

Friday, 8:30 a.m.: Mississippi River expected to crest at 19 feet in New Orleans

The Army Corps of Engineers says Tropical Storm Barry's storm surge will push water up an already bloated Mississippi River. The corps says river is expected to crest at 19 ft, but they're confident it won't flow over the levees.

 

 

New Orleans' Sewerage & Water Board says pumps should perform well this weekend, as NOLA prepares for Tropical Storm Barry. Heavy rain Wednesday walloped parts of the city with flooding. Mid City was no exception; hence, the rush to sandbag the historic Zulu headquarters, just in case.

 

 

-- Brandon Walker

Friday, 8 a.m.: Hurricane director says Louisiana could see up to 25 inches of rain

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said pockets of Louisiana could have as much as 25 inches (63 centimeters) of rain.

“So here’s the takeaway: Dangerous situation,” he said during an online presentation Thursday. “That kind of rainfall in this system could cause flash flooding, cause ponding of water.”

-- Associated  Press

Friday, 7 a.m.: Lafayette, New Iberia residents taking precautions, clearing food off of shelves

After a day of driving and plenty of interviews, we’ve made the rounds across state lines to Lafayette and New Iberia. After speaking with city and parish leaders in Lafayette, we found out about several sandbag stations across the area where people were preparing for the storm. We came across many people who told us they didn’t want to chance it given the fact they dealt with a major flood back in 2016.

Woody Leblanc of Lafayette mentioned, “Just trying to get a few sandbags and make sure we don’t get water in our homes. Just in case. We don’t always flood but you never know.

Darrell Richmond, a Lafayette resident said, “Lafayette has never really seen anything like that before and so that was a first. We’d weren’t really prepared for it because it never happens like that around here.”

After gathering for the day at that location we moved closer to the coast and went to New Iberia but we found stores with shelves that were empty after people stocked up on the basic necessities including bread, water and other go to’s. There we caught up with families who tell us much the same as we heard in Lafayette that they’d rather be prepared now before the storm hit and what they could see.

Tamika St. Julian, a New Iberia resident explained, “It looks like everybody’s getting ready to prepare for the hurricane, like a tropical storm that’s coming. Like they’re really taking it serious like the shelves are empty, it’s like hard to find stuff.”

City and parish leaders tell us they’re holding to daily emergency preparedness meetings to continue to monitor the forecast and discuss things like the need for shelters and or possible evacuation orders. But the take away from those meetings — everything is really a wait-and-see game, for now, depending on what the forecast does.

-- Jonathan Martinez

Thursday, 10 p.m.: New Orleans mayor says Barry could dump water faster than pumps can handle

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that the pumping system that drains the city’s streets is working as designed but that Barry could dump water faster than the pumps can move it.

“We cannot pump our way out of the water levels ... that are expected to hit the city of New Orleans,” she warned.

However, the city did not plan to order evacuations because Barry was so close and because it was not expected to grow into a major hurricane. Officials instead advised people to keep at least three days of supplies on hand and to keep their neighborhood storm drains clear so water can move quickly.

-- Associated Press

Thursday, 9:30 p.m.: New Iberia braces for Barry

Preparations were being made Thursday night in New Iberia ahead of Barry's landfall. Jonathan Martinez has the story.

Thursday, 9 p.m.: Trump declares federal emergency

President Donald Trump on Thursday night declared a federal declaration of emergency for Louisiana, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who declared an emergency earlier in the week as the storm brewed in the Gulf of Mexico, warned that the storm’s blow could form a dangerous combination with the already-high Mississippi River, which has been swelled by heavy rain and snowmelt upriver this spring.

-- Associated Press

Thursday, 6 p.m.: Louisiana prepares for Barry's landfall

A hurricane watch is in effect for New Orleans and residents in Lafayette are preparing for Barry's landfall.

Thursday, 4 p.m.: Sandbagging in Lafayette

Residents in Lafayette prepare for tropical storm Barry days before landfall is expected, many people filling sandbags ahead of any potential flooding.

 

 

Thursday, 3 p.m.: Airbnb activates open homes program 

Airbnb said it has activated its Open Homes Program to help displaced residents and relief workers deployed to the areas impacted by Tropical Storm Barry. The Open Homes Program recruits hosts who are willing and able to provide free housing to displaced residents and disaster relief workers.

Airbnb Hosts within the affected area have the ability to opt into listing their homes for $0, offering accommodations free of charge.

The Open Homes Program is currently available through July 31.

Thursday, 2 p.m.: We're on the road tracking the storm

The day started early with for photographer Renee Lavine and I as we loaded up the Storm Tracker to head east towards Louisiana.

Exact location of where we’re going remains up in the air as we’re coordinating by phone with communities to get a better understanding of how they’re preparing. Thus far, looks like we’ll be heading to Lafayette where city and parish leaders are holding daily meetings with emergency management officials to get prepared.

So far, we're hearing they’re doing outreach with residents as with any storm about possibility of flooding, power lines down and potential for debris across the area. They’ve also set up several sand bag stations across the city. 

-- Jonathan Martinez

Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.