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.


Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

Updated 42 min 54 sec ago

Hong Kong endures more transit disruptions, campus violence

  • Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes
HONG KONG: Hong Kong residents endured a fourth day of traffic snarls and mass transit disruptions Thursday as protesters closed some main roads and rail networks while police skirmished with militant students at major universities.

Police said protesters shot several arrows at them near Hong Kong Polytechnic University. None of the officers were injured, and six arrows were seized at the scene, police said.

Life in this city of 7.5 million has been strained as thousands of commuters have been unable to get to work or endured lengthy commutes.

The government appealed for employers to show flexibility. “For staff who cannot report for duty on time on account of conditions in road traffic or public transport services, employers should give due consideration to the circumstances,” a statement said.

The Education Bureau extended the suspension of classes for kindergarten to high school students until Monday. It ordered schools to remain open, though, to handle children whose parents need to send them to school.

At Polytechnic University, protesters shot an arrow at officers patrolling nearby, then threw flower pots from a height when other officers arrived. Police responded with tear gas, and protesters fired more arrows.

Protesters have hurled gasoline bombs and thrown objects off bridges onto roads below during clashes at campuses this week. The Chinese University of Hong Kong suspended classes for the rest of the year, and others asked students to switch to online learning.

Students at Chinese University, site of some of the fiercest clashes where students hurled more than 400 firebombs at police on Tuesday, have barricaded themselves in the suburban campus.

Early Thursday they used chainsaws to drop trees onto streets around the campus and prepared for a possible confrontation with police, which were not intervening.

Anti-government protests have riven Hong Kong, and divided its people, for more than five months.

A major rail line connecting Kowloon to mainland China was closed for a second day and five major underground stations were shut along with seven light rail routes, the Transport Department announced.

“Road-based transport services have been seriously affected this morning due to continued road blockages and damage to road facilities. In view of safety concerns and uncertain road conditions, buses can only provide limited services,” the department said.
Traffic was also disrupted because protesters have destroyed at least 240 traffic lights around the city.

The movement began in June over a now-withdrawn extradition bill. Activists saw it as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.