LOUISIANA: Hurricane Warning, Bracing For Flooding

The Associated Press reports:

Thousands of Louisianans broke out sandbags or fled to higher ground Thursday as Tropical Storm Barry threatened to turn into the first hurricane of the season and blow ashore with torrential rains that could pose a severe test of New Orleans’ improved post-Katrina flood defenses .

National Guard troops and rescue crews in high-water vehicles took up positions around the state as Louisiana braced for the arrival of the storm Friday night or early Saturday. Barry could have winds of about 75 mph (120 kph), just barely over the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane, when it comes ashore, making it a Category 1 storm, forecasters said.

But it is expected to bring more than a foot and a half (0.5 meters) of rain in potentially ruinous downpours that could go on for hours as the storm passes through the metropolitan area of nearly 1.3 million people and pushes slowly inland.