As government officials set up emergency centers and warned New Orleans residents on Friday (July 12) to prepare to huddle indoors, Tropical Storm Barry was poised to make landfall as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019.
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As Barry churned through the northern Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana, meteorologists warned that torrential rains - as much as 2 feet (60 cm) in some places - are likely to unleash severe flooding.
Winds blew waves over the retaining wall along Lake Pontchartrain and shop owners placed sandbags in low-lying areas.
Mandatory evacuations were imposed in flood-prone coastal areas and U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency for Louisiana and the Louisiana National Guard activated troops, who prepared to assist local authorities.
Jefferson City Parish President Michael Yenni said that crews had spent the day clearing storm drains and monitoring conditions at this command center.
The storm's flood potential, rather than its high winds, posed the greatest danger to the low-lying metropolitan landscape of New Orleans, a city virtually surrounded on all sides by rising waters.
The impending storm was widely seen as a key test of the fortified flood defenses put in place following Katrina, which inundated much of the city and killed some 1,800 people.
But Yenni said they learned much from that storm.
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