Tropical Storm Barry inundates Louisiana

Rainfall estimates had been lowered to between 20 to 38 centimeters but rivers and canals across South Louisiana were full, and caused flooding in some streets. (Reuters)
Updated 14 July 2019

Tropical Storm Barry inundates Louisiana

  • Barry was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall — but it nevertheless packed a serious punch as it moved inland
  • News footage showed localized flooding, swollen waterways, and downed power lines and trees

INTRACOASTAL CITY, United States: Authorities warned of heavy rain and possible tornadoes throughout Sunday as major storm Barry buffeted Louisiana, though there were few indications of widespread flooding.
After briefly becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, Barry was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall — but it nevertheless packed a serious punch as it moved inland.
All flights in and out of the airport in the state’s biggest city New Orleans were canceled, thousands evacuated their homes, tens of thousands lost power and first responders were poised for action.
Fears that the levee system in New Orleans could be compromised eased after the Army Corps of Engineers voiced confidence that it would hold, but Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged residents not to be complacent.
“We are not in any way out of the woods,” she said, adding that flash flooding could still occur into Sunday.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the storm would intensify into Sunday, with many areas seeing more rain overnight than they had during the day.
“Don’t let your guard down thinking the worst is behind us,” he told a press conference.
At 1:00 A.M. (0700 GMT), the storm was packing winds of 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, the National Hurricane Center said, and was located west of the city of Alexandria, moving north at eight mph.
“Barry is still very much a dangerous storm with impacts only increasing through Sunday,” the National Weather Service said in a tweet.
The storm was expected to chug north across inland Louisiana into Sunday, while tornado warnings were issued for areas of New Orleans and parts of the neighboring state of Mississippi.
Rainfall estimates had been lowered to between eight and 15 inches (20 to 38 centimeters) but rivers and canals across South Louisiana were full.
The heavy winds scattered tree branches across roads and knocked over road signs, and in St. John’s Parish next to New Orleans, local television footage showed some areas under two or more feet (60 centimeters) of water.
The eye of the storm made landfall at Intracoastal City, a speck of a town with a few houses and businesses. Part of the main road was flooded Saturday afternoon, as were some waterfront businesses, with water rising by the minute.
News footage showed localized flooding, swollen waterways, and downed power lines and trees across south Louisiana as rivers overtopped their levees in several locations, including part of coastal Terrebonne Parish where authorities had issued a mandatory evacuation notice.
For many, the storm and potential for large-scale flooding revived unpleasant memories of deadly Hurricane Katrina.
Thousands packed up and left their homes as floodwaters hit low-lying areas like Plaquemines Parish, where road closures left some communities isolated.
Others hunkered down to ride out the squall, despite mandatory evacuation orders and the risk of dangerous storm surges.
Louisiana is facing an extraordinarily dangerous confluence of conditions, experts say.
The level of the Mississippi River, already swollen from historic rains and flooding upstream, was at nearly 17 feet (5.2 meters) in New Orleans — just below flood stage.
In 2005, Katrina — the costliest and deadliest hurricane in recent US history — submerged about 80 percent of New Orleans after the city’s levee system failed, causing some 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damage.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 25 August 2019

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.