WASHINGTON, D.C. - After Governor John Bel Edwards declared a 'State of Emergency' for the State of Louisiana, both the parish and city of Denham Springs followed suit.
The disaster declarations open up the funnel for federal funds and support, but only if President Donald Trump declares the final level of the emergency.
Thursday evening, the entire Louisiana delegation in the nation's capitol signed a letter supporting the state's disaster declaration and urging the president to make his own declaration.
Congressman Garret Graves' office made the letter available, which reads:
We are writing to express our support of the request for a federal emergency declaration for the State of Louisiana, effective July 10, 2019. Tropical Storm Barry is expected to reach hurricane force, threatening heavy rainfall, high winds, and a significant storm surge, while exacerbating existing conditions on the ground in Louisiana. Your assistance is urgently needed to help the people of our state during this difficult time.
The National Weather Service (NWS) warns that Tropical Storm Barry could gain strength in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether it makes landfall as a hurricane or as a tropical storm, this weather system threatens more than one foot of rainfall, life-threatening flash flooding, extreme winds, and a storm surge of up to four feet throughout areas of South Louisiana. The dangers to life and property posed by this storm are worsened by the fact that the Mississippi River has been at flood stage for much of the spring and summer.
This year, the Mississippi River has surpassed a 92-year flood record. All of the water in the river's 1.25 million square mile drainage basin—including 31 states and two Canadian provinces must funnel through Louisiana before entering the Gulf of Mexico. To relieve pressure on the levee system, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has needed to open the Bonnet Carré Spillway twice during 2019. This year marks the first time in history the spillway has been opened in two consecutive years and the first time it's been opened twice in a single year. Even with the spillway open, the river is dangerously near overtopping the levee system and, coupled with storm conditions, presents a significant risk to Louisiana's coastal areas.
The Louisiana Governor's Office has requested Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) to save lives and protect property, as well as for emergency protective measures for 35 parishes. Please keep in mind that the residents of many of the affected parishes are still recovering from the historic March and August 2016 flood disasters.
For these reasons, we urge you to use your authority under the Stafford Act to declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana. Thank you for your continued support for our communities, and we look forward to working together to help the residents of these damaged areas in their time of need.
The City of New Orleans has already received flood damages from errant bands of Tropical Storm Barry, which at the time was called Invest92L. Barry formed, officially, into a tropical storm on Thursday morning.
Currently, the path has the eye passing between Lafayette and Baton Rouge, with the majority of rain occurring on the east side. This brings that rain into Livingston Parish where a flash flood warning is in effect. If current models remain accurate, the parish could receive up to 20 inches of rain, more in isolated spots.
That rain is expected to fall over a 36-48 hour period, depending on how fast Barry is moving when landfall occurs.
Winds of 70+ miles are also a concern as Barry is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before landfall late Friday evening or early Saturday morning.
Sandbags are being distributed throughout the parish at the following locations:
Local officials urge residents to be on the lookout for debris and trash in culverts, drains, and waterways. If you cannot remove it yourself without bodily harm or damaging the infrastructure, call the city of Denham Springs, city of Walker, or the parish.