Tropical Storm Barry knocks out power for all of Grand Isle

Evacuations ordered as drenching Tropical Storm Barry bears down on Gulf Coast

The Hurricane Center said Barry could bring a risky storm surge, heavy rains and damaging winds across the north-central Gulf Coast.

Tropical Storm Barry is expected to make landfall sometime between late Friday night into Saturday afternoon.

"I worry an terrible lot about the rain as it falls, not as it relates to the Mississippi River but all the other rivers that we have across south Louisiana", Edwards 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.

A coastal storm surge into the mouth of the MS is expected to push its crest to 19 feet (5.79 m) in New Orleans on Saturday, the highest level since 1950 and dangerously close to the top of the city's levees. Forecasters predict at least 10-15 inches of rain, which could cause major flooding.

Weakening is expected after Barry moves inland. The Mississippi River is already running abnormally high because of heavy spring rains and snowmelt upstream, and the ground around New Orleans is soggy because of an 8-inch torrent earlier this week.

However, officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the levees, insisted that no significant breaching of the 20-foot-tall levees in New Orleans was likely.

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Edwards said on Thursday that that authorities do not expect the river to spill over its levees, but cautioned that a change in the storm's direction or intensity could alter that.

"My concerns are just hoping it's not going to be another Katrina", said Donald Wells, a restaurant cook in New Orleans.

"I am encouraging, I am imploring residents to prepare", said Gov. Edwards.

Graham said that Barry had a "small chance, maybe" of becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season as it comes ashore, but added: "That's not the point here". "But I'm confident that New Orleans is going to weather this storm (Barry) in pretty good fashion". New Orleans has a system of pumps that go into effect in flooding situations, but they'll only remove an inch of rainwater in the first hour of the storm, CNN reports.

New Orleans residents who plan to ride out the storm flocked to supermarkets for bottled water, ice, snacks and beer, thronging grocery stores in such numbers that some ran out of shopping carts.

"My house is raised, and being this close to the river we typically don't have too many problems", he said.

Katrina caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans 14 years ago and was blamed for more than 1800 deaths in Louisiana and other states, by some estimates.

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