The remnants of Hurricane Harvey have forced hundreds more of evacuations in Louisiana, as the western part of the state braces for the storm to make landfall Wednesday morning. In New Orleans, officials feel optimistic enough about the forecast to open schools on Wednesday.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said at least 500 people were rescued Monday night and Tuesday morning due to chest-deep floodwaters in Calcasieu Parish, which borders Texas. Nearly 300 people are in shelters, Edwards said. While the outer bands of the storm have been pelting the state, Louisiana is going to bear the biggest brunt Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, when Harvey is expected to make landfall on the Louisiana-Texas border.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Bill Doran of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said at a news conference in Baton Rouge.
Edwards said 375 members of the Louisiana National Guard have been deployed, including 15 to monitor pumps in New Orleans. The state offered to open shelters in northern Louisiana for people evacuated from Texas, and will be providing fuel to the Cajun Navy to assist with rescue efforts in Houston and the surrounding areas.
The storm, Edwards said, “has tremendous potential to continue to drop heavy amounts of water and prevent people from going about their normal daily business in a safe manner.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the heaviest rains from the storm are expected to hit Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, causing the potential for localized street flooding. The city distributed over 63,000 sandbags and cleaned 1,358 catch basins. Landrieu said the forecast improved enough to open city schools and public buildings on Wednesday, but he tweeted that New Orleans is “not yet in the clear” and urged people to remain vigilant.
“The weather outlook got a little better for us,” he said.
Tuesday is the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Western Louisiana, including parts of Lake Charles, have seen between 15 and 17 inches of rain, with an additional five to 10 inches expected overnight, according to the National Weather Service.
“The biggest issue that we’re looking at with this storm is the associated landfall and potential for flooding,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said in a video posted to Facebook. He warned residents that if a neighborhood flooded Monday night it probably will Tuesday, and that a shelter is opening at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
“There is simply nowhere for the water to go at this time,” Hunter said.
Donald Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles, said two tornadoes were confirmed in Acadia Parish, near Jennings, Louisiana.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Katie Zezima