Louisiana res­i­dents hope sand­bags will keep Har­vey’s wa­ter out

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Nation + World - By Jeff Amy and Michael Kun­zel­man

LAKE CHARLES, LA. » A weak­ened Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey made land­fall in south­west Louisiana early Wed­nes­day, leav­ing res­i­dents brac­ing for more wind, rain and pos­si­ble tor­na­does and hop­ing wa­ter would stay out of their sand­bagged homes.

The storm came ashore be­fore dawn just west of Cameron, Louisiana, bring­ing max­i­mum sus­tained winds near 45 mph, the U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said. Har­vey had lin­gered over Texas for days be­fore me­an­der­ing back into the Gulf of Mex­ico.

Fore­cast­ers said there was a risk of tor­na­does across a large part of the South as Har­vey trudged north­east to­ward north­ern Louisiana. The na­tional Storm Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter said a few tor­na­does were ex­pected to de­velop Wed­nes­day in north­east Louisiana and across south­ern and cen­tral por­tions of Mis­sis­sippi. Tor­na­does would also be pos­si­ble across parts of south­ern and cen­tral Alabama, near the eastern edge of Har­vey’s rain bands. At least five tor­na­does from Har­vey have been con­firmed so far in Louisiana, al­though they have caused lit­tle dam­age.

An­other 1 to 3 inches to of rain could fall in western Louisiana, with up to 6 inches in spots, with the heav­i­est rain in­land.

“We are start­ing to get down to the end of the tun­nel of all this rain,” Me­te­o­rol­o­gist Roger Erick­son said.

Har­vey ap­peared to have pro­duced lit­tle dam­age overnight in south­west Louisiana, where hun­dreds of peo­ple were res­cued from flood­wa­ters ear­lier this week, of­fi­cials said. Har­vey’s heav­i­est rains con­tin­ued to stay west of Louisiana, just across the Sabine River in Texas. Lake Charles recorded less than 1 inch of rain overnight.

“We’re not out of the woods to­tally, but we’re look­ing much bet­ter,” Cal­casieu Par­ish Sheriff Tony Man­cuso said

The heav­i­est overnight rain bands also spared New Or­leans, where sun broke through the clouds af­ter day­break and schools re­opened Wed­nes­day af­ter clos­ing a day ear­lier.

Mayor Mitch Lan­drieu had urged New Or­leans res­i­dents to stay home Tues­day be­cause of the threat of po­ten­tial high wa­ter. Some neigh­bor­hoods flooded ear­lier this month dur­ing a del­uge that ex­posed prob­lems with the city’s pump and drainage sys­tem. On Tues­day, rains flooded a few of the city’s streets, but not to the same ex­tent.

Erick­son, the Lake Charles me­te­o­rol­o­gist, warned that some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain ef­fec­tively be­cause Har­vey’s winds are push­ing in storm surge, ag­gra­vat­ing flood­ing in ar­eas al­ready drenched by more than 20 inches of rain. Gusts up to 40 mph are pre­dicted for coastal ar­eas, al­though Erick­son said Har­vey would weaken through­out the day.

Cameron Par­ish Ad­min­is­tra­tor Ryan Bour­ri­aque said storm surge ap­par­ently caused lit­tle dam­age along Louisiana’s south­west­ern coast, al­though some wa­ter re­mained on road­ways in parts of the par­ish. He said of­fi­cials are likely to con­sider lift­ing a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion order for the south­ern end of the par­ish once dam­age assess­ments are com­plete.

“We ac­knowl­edge that we are cer­tainly much bet­ter off that we could have been at this point,” Bour­ri­aque said.

State of­fices in 28 parishes and most Ba­ton Rouge area schools won’t open Wed­nes­day in an­tic­i­pa­tion of pos­si­ble se­vere weather. Gov. John Bel Ed­wards urged peo­ple to re­main alert but said the state is re­spond­ing well to less se­vere con­di­tions in its own borders.

“You never know what Mother Nature is go­ing to throw at us, but with the peo­ple in this room, I’m con­fi­dent we can han­dle it,” he told lo­cal and state of­fi­cials dur­ing a visit Tues­day to Lake Charles, which is near the Texas bor­der.

Ed­wards said Louisiana also has of­fered to shel­ter storm vic­tims from Texas. He said he ex­pects Texas of­fi­cials to de­cide within 48 hours whether to ac­cept the of­fer.

Har­vey’s dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing brought back tough mem­o­ries in New Or­leans as Tues­day marked the 12th an­niver­sary of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina.

GER­ALD HER­BERT — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Kids ride an ATV in a street flooded by Trop­i­cal Storm Har­vey, in the Clearfield Farm sub­di­vi­sion in Lake Charles, La., Tues­day.

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