Severe storms have triggered a flash flood emergency in New Orleans, where the city’s water-pumping system is malfunctioning and more rain is forecast. The first tropical system to slam the US this year is expected to make landfall as a hurricane. But days before landfall, it was already walloping New Orleans with widespread flooding.
The flooding occurred as the brewing tropical system, which may soon become Hurricane Barry, gathered strength over the Gulf of Mexico.
The emergency was declared in Jefferson Parish, with four to six inches of rain reported as of 9.30am CDT on Wednesday.
New Orleans city officials urged residents to stay off the roads and to seek higher ground if they encountered flooding.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a post on Twitter: “Residents are reminded not to block intersections or streetcar tracks.
READ MORE: Hurricane Barry path: Millions under flood risk in New Orleans
“To reduce risk of street flooding, do not park in front of or on a catch basin.”
Officials say some neighbourhoods are at risk of serious flooding.
In addition to the heavy downpours a home that sits on Bayou St. John in New Orleans was severely damaged Wednesday by what appears to have been a tornado.
Chris D’Elia, Dean of LSU’s College of the Coast and Environment, told weather.com: “I don’t want to overly alarm people but this is a serious situation given the high levels of the Mississippi River.
”It’s not just for New Orleans, it goes upstream considerably as well.
“A lot is going to depend on the strength of this system and how much rain it produces.”
And with potential Hurricane Barry looming, people are on alert as more heavy downpours are forecast.
The torrential rain is associated with the potentially life-threatening area of low pressure.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda said: “Heavy downpours will still be a threat over the coming days as the budding tropical system moves by just off of the coast to the south.
“This weekend looks to carry the most significant flooding threat for southern Louisiana, as what is expected to be Hurricane Barry by that time makes landfall in southwestern Louisiana.”
He added: “Areas to the east of the landfall point are expected to see the heaviest rain this weekend, with 20-plus inches possible in spots. This threat includes New Orleans.”
According to NOLA.com at least 200 flood gates around New Orleans were expected to be closed by Friday.
The New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board said that all major pumps were operating and that officials had 118 out of an available 120.