Concern over river levels ramp up ahead of Barry landfall

Concern over river levels ramp up ahead of Barry landfall
(Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Tropical Storm Barry could pack quite a punch for the capital area but with all the rain that is expected, there is fresh concern about where the water could end up and it has several residents worried about rivers.

Concern over river levels ramp up ahead of Barry landfall

Sobering new numbers on the storm system were released late Friday evening and its imminent impact on south Louisiana. While it is important not to panic, Dr. Steve Caparotta with the WAFB First Alert Storm Team says the rainfall could spell trouble for parts of the region.

“It’s significantly worse, but the thing we need to emphasize is the significant uncertainty that’s involved in those forecast numbers. But the takeaway right now is the rain forecast will have the real heavy stuff over the heart of the WAFB viewing area and the heart of our river basins,” said Caparotta.

To put things in perspective, the forecast calls for area rivers to crest above the levels back in 2001 but just shy of what happened in 2016. More troubling though, is the Comite River along Joor Road near Central, where it is expected to crest even higher than three years ago, at 34.5 feet.

“If these forecasts are anywhere even close to accurate, this is closer to the 1983 flood but still in most spots not quite to 2016,” said Caparotta.

Unlike 2016, something that the area did not see then that could become an issue this time around is power outages.

“This time around, it’s a multifaceted attack with heavy rainfall, big time winds and that will likely produce some power outages,” said Caparotta.

WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked one resident who was busy gathering sandbags Friday afternoon if they are terribly concerned about what is coming.

"I'm cautiously optimistic but I'm a realist so that's why I'm out here," said Jonathan Dearbone.

Jonathan Dearbone
Jonathan Dearbone

With 2016 still fresh for so many, some are already getting antsy about what could head toward the area.

“Well we hope it’s nowhere near 2016 but there’s been some questions Jay has not been answered,” said Dearbone.

"Yeah that makes me nervous," said Eric Hilton.

As folks scramble to get last minute sandbags and brace for impact, they admit the fear has set in even before the Tropical Storm arrives.

"l just hope the lights don't go out for a long time and you know everybody make it safe," said Hilton.

Like what happened in 2016, Barry is also projected to be a slow mover. With landfall expected for the early morning hours of Saturday, parts of the area could see heavy rainfall through Sunday.

“And that’s why we have concerns about those heavy rains bands set up to roll over the same areas and dump inches upon inches of rainfall,” Caparotta added.

While forecasters cannot exactly pinpoint what Mother Nature will bring until after the storm system moves closer, Barry certainly has a lot of folks wondering what if, as they wait for what's next.

“Everybody just needs to be home safe with their families,” said Hilton.

If there is any silver lining in all of this, the governor and other elected officials have said the state is a little better prepared for this storm than ever before. There is still a lot of concern though as Barry barrels closer.

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