As levees in New Orleans strain, residents fear the worst from Tropical Storm Barry


Fourteen long years have passed since Hurricane Katrina battered the bayous of Louisiana, and for many, the metaphorical floodwaters have never receded.

The federal response to Katrina, specifically in the city of New Orleans, was a stain on the presidency of George W. Bush.  Thanks to the burgeoning internet and the early 2000’s rise of cable news, devastating images from that storm were soon bouncing off the retinas of infuriated Americans everywhere.  People were drowning, trapped, sick, and dead all over the tourism-heavy city of old, without so much as a single FEMA responder in sight for several days.

New Orleans has rebuilt, some, but there are still many residents who fear the weather inordinately due to the aftermath of Katrina.

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Now, with Tropical Storm Barry bearing down on The Big Easy, familiar warnings from 2005 are being echoed again.

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In New Orleans, neither mandatory nor voluntary evacuations have been ordered, as the city’s mayor, Latoya Cantrell, advised residents to shelter in place. Cantrell said the city only enacts evacuations for hurricanes of Category 3 force or higher, according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale. “Therefore, sheltering in place is our strategy,” the mayor told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

There are concerns about the levees as well.

There is concern the levee system may be topped along the Mississippi River due primarily to Gulf of Mexico water backing up the channel. On top of that, heavy rain will pour down on the immediate area from Friday night to Saturday, adding volume to runoff.

Water levels on the lower Mississippi River remain high from spring flooding that was still flowing downstream from the middle and upper part of the basin.

In comparison, the level on the Mississippi River prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina was 2 feet. On Thursday morning, the river level was just above 16 feet. Flooding in New Orleans occurred primarily as levees failed as a storm surge caused waters to rise in Lake Pontchartrain.

A repeat performance by FEMA and the National Weather Service is unlikely, as President Trump has assured those of N’awlins that the federal government will be ready, willing, and able to provide whatever assistance is necessary during this dangerous storm.

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