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Barry Now Category 1 Hurricane with 75 MPH Winds; Morgan City Feeling Effects as Barry Nears Louisiana; St. Bernard Parish Experience Rains, Winds as Barry Moves Closer; Emergency Preparations Under Way in Baton Rouge; Mike Pence Talks Raid on Undocumented Immigrants in Major Cities Beginning Sunday; Barry Now Category 1 Hurricane & Expected to Make Landfall Shortly; Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards Give Update on Hurricane Preparedness; Barry Weakens to Tropical Storm after Making Landfall. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 13, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:0:00] TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And frankly, there's nowhere for the water to go. So that's what authorities are looking for through all of this. Whether or not they're winding up in places where the water just can't go anywhere except to the places people live.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, again, everyone. Welcome to this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We are on storm watch. Breaking news. Hurricane Barry is now a category one hurricane. Expected to make landfall shortly.
Take a look at these images. This is Morgan City, Louisiana, where already the surf is kicking up and they're experiencing bands of rain because of that hurricane.
Right now, the storm is carrying maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour. Pictures of Lafayette, Louisiana, right there. Nearly a million people in all are directly in the path of Hurricane Barry.
Moments ago, the mayor of New Orleans once again urging residents to stay put.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATOYA CANTRELL, (D), NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Although you may not have seen rainfall as we've been discussing, it is coming our way. So, please, continue to listen and react accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: We've also learned a levee in Myrtle Grove, Louisiana, is overtopping in 15 spots. That levee is about 40 miles outside of New Orleans. It is one of two levees that have not been reinforced with funding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
As you can see, the storm is already causing lots of damage in some parts. Snapping power lines. Leaving a lot of folks without any form of electricity. More than 77,000 people without electricity in Louisiana.
We're covering the storm across the region now.
CNN's Natasha Chen is west of New Orleans in Morgan City.
Natasha, you've been hit by bands of rain in and out. What else are people feeling and experiencing there?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, it's a lot more wind than rain just at the moment.
We ran into the public information officer for St. Mary Parish, the parish we're in right now. He was talking about some of the concerns they have. They've gotten a couple of medical calls, for example, in a neighboring city. And there are growing concerns that they may not be able to get to some of those calls very soon because a lot of roads are blocked right now with debris and downed trees.
I want to show you the street that we're on. For a while, there were some people coming by and just looking around. But you can see sandbags. People have prepared the best they can around these straits. That's because the main concern here is flooding and the rain.
The heavy rain that we're expecting is yet to come. So the city's pumps will be tested at that time.
Of course, we're also seeing massive flooding from the river here. It was already quite flooded before the storm. You can see that -- you can barely see the top of that trash can right there. This is all a major concern.
The mayor was talking about what people should do. There was a voluntary evacuation as of yesterday. And he had a message for the people who are still here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK "BOO" GRIZZAFFI, (I), MORGAN CITY MAYOR: There's a lot of work to be done. We're out there to protect you, but it's hard to do it when we're trying to deal with a lot of sight seers.
So hunker don't. We'll get power restored as soon as possible. We'll try to get this city back to normal.
The problem is we haven't seen the worst of it yet. It's just starting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: A lot of people here in Morgan City are without power. We saw some transformers across the river blow up this morning as we were here.
We'll definitely be tracking some of this weather. Expecting more rain as the day goes on -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Natasha, when you pointed and said it's difficult to see the trash can, are you saying -- I think you're on a bridge, right? Just below you is kind of like a river walk or promenade and now it's inundated with water?
CHEN: Right. This is the Morgan City sea wall. And the sea wall is next to this river where are all these stairs that go all the way to the bottom. Typically, there are benches here. You usually walk out. You can't even see the top of the bench right now. But there are definitely waves now splashing at the bottom of these steps.
Difficult to tell how much higher this will get but it was already flooded even before the storm -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: That's very significant.
Thank you so much, Natasha Chen. Appreciate it.
Let's talk now with Reed Timmer. He's an AccuWeather network extreme meteorologist.
Reed? Where are you? What's going on?
REED TIMMER, WEATHER EXTREME METEOROLOGIST, ACCUWEATHER: I'm on the northern side of Morgan City. This is on the north side of the lake here. I'm right of the river as well. But this is an exposed area. We're getting hammered by southerly winds.
There was a very large camper that was just about 200 yards east of my location here.
You can see a bit of storm surge as well from -- (INAUDIBLE) It's coming in squalls. You can even see it circulating over the lake here. Almost look miniature waterspouts. And that's the wind really.
[13:05:07] (INAUDIBLE). And it's heavy rain. (INAUDIBLE).
There are power lines down. Folks are without power. (INAUDIBLE)
I expect the winds to continue to ramp up here in Morgan City.
WHITFIELD: Reed, that live shot demonstrative of what 75 mile-per- hour winds are feeling like right now with this category one Hurricane Barry there, in Morgan City.
Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
All right. Our Chad Myers, I believe, is in our Weather Center. Yes?
Chad, let's take a look at this storm and what it is doing. Just last hour, it was 40 miles or so off the coast. It is a slow mover.
CHAD MEYERS, AMS METEROLOGIST: Yes.
WHITFIELD: And that is very frightening for folks in this low-lying, low-basin area because that means, the slower it goes, the more rain that's dumped, the more accumulation, et cetera.
Kind of paint the picture of what this thing is doing right now as a category one storm.
MYERS: The whole issue is the slow movement. And those were extreme pictures there from Reed. And Reed's always in the middle of everything. He takes chances like no one else does. That's why he gets those pictures.
But it's the rainfall that's going to be the true problem here. You know, 75 mile-per-hour wind will knock a few things down, but it isn't going to be a category two, three or four, 130 mile-per-hour damage maker. It's going to be a flood maker.
All of these rivers are going to be out of their banks. Maybe not the Mississippi at New Orleans. That's the good news. The levees are in place. The levees are fine. The water's at 17. The levees go to 20. There may still be some surge but not that significant of a surge. We're not going to see water getting pushed up the Mississippi. We saw it yesterday, but it's not truly going to happen anymore.
And all of this rainfall from Baton Rouge down to New Orleans, even though it's 10 to 20 inches, that doesn't go into the Mississippi. There are no rivers that go into the Mississippi south like that. All the water there has to go away from the Mississippi because the levees hold it out. All those rivers and streams, ditches and bayous go away from the Mississippi River. So there's no real flood threat yet from the Mississippi to New Orleans because we're not going to get any real rainfall falling in it.
But the flood threat is all the way up, even toward Little Rock, because of the slow-moving nature of this storm. We're going to see it spin, we're going to see it die. As it dies, it's just going to dump its water. It's going to dump its rainfall.
We haven't seen a lot of rainfall onshore. It's in the Gulf of Mexico right now. When that low gets here, that's when the rain south of the low is going to be on land. That's the real problem we're going to have.
I do think we're going to get landfall here rather quickly, if it hasn't already happened. It's hard to tell where land starts and water ends in Louisiana when you're way down where they are down there. So we'll keep watching that for you.
We're going to see many rivers either at major or even record crests over the next couple days -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right. We are already seeing a prelude to some of those consequences. MYERS: Right.
WHITFIELD: And already it doesn't look good in a lot of areas.
MYERS: It doesn't.
WHITFIELD: Chad Myers, thank you so much.
MYERS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: With me, Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Ken, what are your expectations here? Every hurricane is unpredictable. You can only expect, you know, far off so much. But what is it shaping up to be right now, this Hurricane Barry?
KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NOAA NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER, MIAMI: I tell you, Chad really hit it hard. He's right. Look at the water and the moisture that we have with the system.
What an unusual look to it. You look in a textbook and see what a hurricane should look like, it's not this.
Around the center - and it's hard to tell where the land begins and where the ocean is there. At the same time, it's kind of a large area with some different spins within it, so the center is even hard to find at this point.
The precipitation doesn't even wrap around the center. But the winds are there, 75 mile-an-hour winds, very gusty.
But look at the rainfall. This is an area of a lot of concern. This is one of the rain bands we've been advertising for about three days. It looks like the storms are moving fast but the reality is they're moving over the same area. You don't have to be near the center to have problems. Fifty miles, 100 miles, 150 miles away, you can have some of those flooding rains. So a very dangerous situation.
[13:10:08] WHITFIELD: You said the center is difficult to pinpoint but you know it's a hurricane because of the winds speeds, 75 miles per hour, at least 74 miles per hour, which makes a storm like this a hurricane. But what else is characteristic of a hurricane that you're seeing in this system?
GRAHAM: It's interesting. Because it really is about the winds. We are getting the winds that are hurricane strength.
There's a center but it's so large. In this case, look at the size of the center. How many times do we see a hurricane with this small eye and this eye wall? That's not what we see. That's what makes this an interesting situation, how large the center is. And a lot of it is not even closed off by precipitation. You can't even see it by the rain. It's just the winds.
So it's got the classic look of the rainfall but not necessarily the center.
WHITFIELD: What kind of advice do you have for residents who are in their homes? We heard from the mayor of New Orleans who says pay attention and stay where you are, shelter in place.
You know, these floods can be very unpredictable because just as you and Chad have been describing kind of the low basin, this is below sea level in so many parts that are being hit right now, the water can come really fast.
GRAHAM: Yes, the big advice that I have is, even looking at the satellite, we've got a long way to go. This is a slow-moving storm. All this moisture in the Gulf of Mexico still has to stream up. We have days of rain.
So my advice is this. The stats are easy. And 83 percent of the fatalities in these tropical systems in the last three years have been inland water, half of those in cars. So, look, we have to stay off the roads. Listen to the local officials. Stay off the roads. It's just too dangerous.
WHITFIELD: Yes. All right, great advice.
Ken Graham, thank you very much.
GRAHAM: You bet.
WHITFIELD: More live pictures. This is New Orleans. You can see the water is very high. It's already saturated the ground in so many places, not just because of the rainfall today but over a period of days there's been a lot of rain.
We'll be right back with more.
[13:15:47] WHITFIELD: We're continuing to follow breaking news from the gulf coast where Hurricane Barry, now a category one, is already moving closer to landfall with winds of 75 miles per hour.
I'm joined right now on the phone by Guy McInnis, president of St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana, which includes parts of New Orleans.
Give me an idea of what you all are experiencing there right now.
GUY MCINNIS, PRESIDENT, ST. BERNARD PARISH, LOUISIANA (via telephone): Yes, Fredricka. Thank you for calling us here today.
I'll tell you, it could be a whole lot worse, Fredricka. We are blessed here in St. Bernard Parish, in southeast Louisiana. We have very little surge associated with this storm for us. The predictions of overtopping of the Mississippi River levee and Plaquemines Parish did not pan out here in St. Bernard Parish. We did not experience a lot of rain.
Sheriff Pohlmann and I are assessing our parish. We have a few downed trees, a couple of downed power poles and about 1000 of our residents are out of power. So that's about it at this point.
WHITFIELD: That's good news so far but are you also on pins and needles because this is such a slow-moving storm? It's nearly standing in place because it's creeping along at just 40 miles per hour. It's expected to dump a lot more rain over the next couple of days.
MCINNIS: We are still staying vigilant and we are still taking the storm serious.
I tell you, back on Wednesday when they were talking about the flood stage being at 20 feet, knowing that our levees are on average of 20 feet and there are some low points in our levees, there was a lot of contentious discussion amongst local leaders.
Our governor, John Bel Edwards, did a great job in getting the correct information to the local officials to make sure that we could give our residents the right information.
But I can tell you, this is a three-prong approach to us. We have a surge from the river, a surge from the gulf, and a heavy rain event that we might get. As you know, New Orleans got flooded just a couple of days ago with the deluge, but we are always on the lookout for that.
WHITFIELD: Sure. So do you concern yourself at all about making sure, you know, residents are not lulled into a sense of complacency that, OK, your levees are at 20 feet and some of the expectations of water have been lowered to 17 feet, that people will get out and about in their vehicles, walking, et cetera? And there's still another day of rain. Do you worry people could find themselves in trouble?
MCINNIS: I really don't, Fredricka. If we go back to Katrina, it was the next morning, the sun was out and people were picking up trash and that's when the floods came.
People know that. The messages from our governor, the local and federal level has been, please stay off of roads if you can. Take this storm serious. Wait until it completely passes us. We do know -- we can look at the weather report. We still have bands that are going to be coming through our parish.
I don't worry about that as much because of what we've been through in the past.
WHITFIELD: I love your sense of confidence there. People there are largely very wise and very experienced. They know what these storms can bring and what the potential usually is.
Guy McInnes, thank you so much, president of St. Bernard Parish. Appreciate it. All the best.
MCINNIS: Yes, thanks.
WHITFIELD: With Barry about to make landfall very shortly, the impacts are being felt in other places along the Louisiana coast. People have been asked to evacuate in some areas. Emergency preparations are, indeed, under way.
Our Randi Kaye is in Baton Rouge, which could get hit with up to 20 inches of rain.
What are experiencing there, Randi?
RANDI KAYE, CNN ACHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Fred, it's hard to believe that yesterday we had sunny skies here with a little bit of sprinkle throughout the day. Today is definitely a very different story.
[13:20:05] We're here at the banks of the Mississippi River, just outside the Bell Casino in downtown Baton Rouge. Just take a look. If you can just pan over. The water is definitely rising. It's definitely gotten rougher. The winds have picked up. You see the trees out there, you can tell they're already dipping into the water from the wind, and the water is rising along them.
What people here are most worried about is the water. It's the number-one issue. As strong as the winds are here right now, they, in 2016, experienced a huge storm here. And people are still recovering from that. You can see here the water is already coming up just on the steps of where we are. But they're still recovering from that.
I talked to one woman who has been living in a FEMA trailer for three years, another woman who has already evacuated her home in Denim Springs, just outside of Baton Rouge, because she had five feet of water back in 2016.
Just a few weeks ago, a man here in Baton Rouge died in his car trying to escape flooding during a storm.
Right now, they have the National Guard in place. They are at the ready. They have the high-water vehicles so they can go to people's homes and rescue them if they do get trapped from flooding as the storm rolls through the area.
There's also public works guys that are checking all the pumps in the city, in the low-lying areas and throughout the town and in the communities that are more at risk, to make sure those pumps are working to pump that water out of here..
The problem is, here in Baton Rouge, even though it's inland, if you get a lot of water into the Mississippi and some of these other outlying rivers and waterways, it has nowhere to go because, Fred, the gulf is pushing the water up this way and the winds are pushing the water up this way. So the water will just sit here and flood these areas. So we're going to keep an eye here.
We know there's a couple of shelters open here as well. They are pet- friendly, we're told.
We also spoke to the mayor's office and they say they are ready. No matter what this storm brings, they have neighboring states that are ready to help them also with the folks here.
I'm glad to know that the National Guard is in place. FEMA is here as well.
These winds are kicking up. You can see it here and we're feeling it for sure. Hopefully, it won't get too bad here -- whoa -- won't get too bad here in Baton Rouge. But we are ready. We are ready.
WHITFIELD: And 75 mile-per-hour winds are pretty forceful.
WHITFIELD: All right, take care. We'll check back with you, Randi.
We will continue to follow breaking news on the track of this hurricane, Hurricane Barry, a category one storm. At least one of the levees that was not reinforced after Hurricane Katrina is now overtopping in 15 spots, we're told. We have live team coverage from Louisiana. Look for the updates at the top of the hour.
[13:26:31] WHITFIELD: Welcome back.
We continue to follow breaking news on the track of Hurricane Barry, now a category one storm.
At least one of the levees that was not reinforced during Hurricane Katrina is now overtopping 15 spots.
You can see here animals having a hard time with the flooding as well. Horses being rounded up. Take a look at video of rescuers who have come to the aid of these horses.
We'll have live team coverage from Louisiana coming up.
Also now, turning to the political firestorm around immigration. ICE agents are expected to carry out raids against undocumented immigrants in at least nine U.S. cities starting tomorrow. Here as a look at where those raids are expected to take place.
But mayors in several cities have already made clear that they will not allow their police forces to cooperate with ICE agents.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is defending the deportation rates as a critical way to enforce the law and stem the flow of illegal immigration.
CNN's Pam Brown spoke to the vice president about those raids.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's important to ask you about the ICE raids on Sunday that the president talked about. Who exactly will agents be targeting? MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I can't speak
about the timing of a law enforcement activity.
BROWN: The president said Sunday today.
PENCE: But let me say that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has continuously been doing their job over the course of this administration. But the upcoming efforts are going to focus exclusively on individuals who have been fully adjudicated and ordered by a judge to be deported.
BROWN: What about families?
PENCE: These will be individuals who are facing a deportation order. And the priority that Homeland Security and ICE will be placing will be on those individuals who have also committed other crimes in this country and represent a threat to our communities.
BROWN: So not just crossing the border illegally but other crimes?
PENCE: The focus and the priority will be on individuals who have also committed other crimes.
But it's very clear in my conversations with Immigration and Customs Enforcements officials and DHS that every individual who will be apprehended in this upcoming effort has already been ordered out of the country by a judge, is facing a legal deportation order. And we expect Immigration and Customs Enforcement to act on deportation orders and remove people from this country that our courts have said will no longer be here.
BROWN: But are you concerned families will be separated? Will families be separated?
PENCE: People will be separated from this country who our courts have ordered to be deported.
BROWN: So families could be separated?
PENCE: I want to be clear on this, Pamela. The priority is going to be on individuals who have committed crimes this this country, people who -- members of M.S.-13, people who have engaged in violent acts in this country, in many cases.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be moving against those individuals and deporting them under the law and under a lawful order by a judge that they be deported.
That's what the America people expect to us do. We have to have border security but we also have to have interior enforcement.
[13:30:02] BROWN: But what happens if a child is at day care or at summer camp, the parent is arrested, is that child going to go home to an empty house? What's going to happen?
PENCE: Pamela, I am very confident that the American people recognize that the way forward to deal with this crisis of illegal immigration is to enforce our laws. And enforcing court-ordered deportation orders is exactly what we're having Immigration and Customs Enforcement to do.
The American people expect to us to secure our border. They expect us to enforce our laws and to put the interests of Americans first.
BROWN: These ICE raids are expected to start Sunday, tomorrow. They are expected to last several days and happen at cities across the country. We are told that around 2000 people are expected to be arrested.
But there are still some unanswered questions, as you heard there from the vice president. I asked four different times whether families would be separated. He was vague. He did say that the priority would be on those who have committed crimes beyond crossing the border, those who have been convicted of crimes. But he was vague on whether those who hadn't committed crimes will be swept up in these raids.
And also the practical questions of, what will happen to those parents whose kids are U.S. citizens or whose kids are away at day camp that day, will they go home to an empty house.
So this was the raid that was put on hold by President Trump when he asked Democrats to come up with a plan on the asylum laws and that didn't happen. So now it appears these raids are back on.
Back to you.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: And, Pam, the vice president also toured a couple of facilities. What were his impressions overall?
BROWN: Yes, we went to two different facilities here in McAllen, Texas, and nearby. There were two different experiences. The first was a facility housing families. It was a cavernous, large, air- conditioned facility, brand new, built in May to help with the overcrowding. It's considered one of the finer facilities. There was an abundance of supplies, of snacks, of medical supplies, food for the kids.
The kids were watching Hispanic animated films that we saw. And they seemed to be well cared for by the CBP agents. The president (sic) asked them if they were well cared for. They nodded yes.
A couple of the kids said it took them two to three months to make it there from their home country. And that was evidenced by the crusted mud on their pants and their shoes from that long journey. We are told they are given showers shortly after arriving.
That was a facility housing the families. They are all processed normally around 30 hours, well within the 72-hour limit, and then released. And many of them come here where I am here now at Catholic Charity. Then we went to the single adult migrant facility and it was a starkly different experience there. We walked into what was called a sally port. There was nearly 400 men packed into cages. It appeared to be standing room only. Many of them, the only thing they had were these blankets, kind of like tin foil. We are told they are given these because they're more hygienic. You don't have to wash them like the cloth blankets. They didn't have pillows. There wasn't room for cots.
The stench was very, very song. Though we are told by CBP the area is cleaned three times a day.
Some of the men complained. They say they hadn't taken showers. The trailer with showers had just arrived the day before V.P. Pence's arrival there. Some of them complained about not getting -- brushing their teeth. Though the CBP says they have the opportunity to do that once a day. It was very hot there.
That is really where we saw the overcrowding that we've been reporting on.
Now, DHS says it's building a new facility to handle the overcrowding there. And it's able to do so because of that supplemental funding from Congress that was recently passed. That has also helped with the overcrowding among the families.
But certainly the question is, what will happen moving forward. Right now, border crossings are down because of the heat, because Mexico is helping out more. But moving forward, it remains to be seen how this is going to be handled.
Back to you.
WHITFIELD: Pamela Brown, in McAllen, Texas, thank you so much.
We are also following breaking news of Hurricane Barry. Expected to make landfall soon as a category 1 storm. You're looking at live pictures right now of Baton Rouge where, at any moment, the governor of Louisiana is expected to give an update on the storm. We'll bring that to you as it happens.
[13:34:36] We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Hurricane Barry now a category 1 storm. And it's expected to make landfall shortly.
Grand Isle, Louisiana, is already feeling the effects of the storm with the majority of the roads covered now in water.
Almost a million people overall are in Barry's path. Both Louisiana and Mississippi are now under states of emergency. And people there are being warned to now shelter in place. More than 77,000 residents are already without power.
CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, is tracking Barry for us.
Still a slow mover and that's a big problem.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It certainly is. It's a problem with people that are very anxious about when landfall is. Honestly, the calls here "has it made landfall" -- can you hear me now, can you hear me now, can you hear me now? No, it hasn't. The Hurricane Center will say so when it does.
It's going to be very hard -- and the director just said that -- it's going to be very hard to figure out when it's over water or land because the land is so interspersed down there. It's not a swamp but there are people in their houses down there. But they will make the call. That's just how it goes.
And 75 miles per hour winds moving northwest at six miles per hour and that is going to be the problem. Six miles per hour. All of this rain, all of this humidity from the Gulf of Mexico, which at one point before the storm just sat over top of it, was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the fuel to the fire. That's the humidity in the air. That's the rain. That's what we call precipitable water. What is in the air that is going to precipitate? What is going to fall from the sky. That's likely if the 15 to 20-inch range right over Baton Rouge.
The models have pushed slightly west than New Orleans over the past couple of hours. But you cannot let your monitor go down. No model had as much rainfall over Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, as we saw this morning. Sometimes the arms get big in these hurricanes and sometimes then remain small.
[13:40:13] The wind is going to be somewhere around 75 miles per hour at landfall and that could be at any time. Then it will begin to slow down just a little bit. But still, winds could be 40 or 50 all the way up to Natchez, all the way up, even with winds in Shreveport. If you're in Shreveport, and you have your umbrellas on your deck outside, now will be a good time to take them down and bring in.
This wind is going to extend a long way inland and so will the rainfall. And we are going to see river flooding here, from the Comite River all the way probably to other places. Many of these rivers will be out of their banks.
This is the radar right now. Beginning to see some lightning strikes here, especially in this band of very heavy rainfall. Remember, this is going to spin, Fred, and this rain is going to get up here, Baton Rouge, all the way maybe over toward New Orleans. That's why we can't let the guard down.
This is why there has been so much consternation over where the eye is. Is it over the bay? Is it over the National Wildlife Refuge here? Or is it even farther - was it on land for a while and then actually moved offshore now? We'll have to keep watching that.
WHITFIELD: All right.
MYERS: The National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center will let us know and we'll let you know when it lands
WHITFIELD: Wow. What's extraordinary, too, is this whole six miles per hour. That is beyond slow moving.
MYERS: Yes, a turtle.
WHITFIELD: And the ground has already been saturated there from days prior of rain.
MYERS: That's right. Absolutely. We saw the six inches in New Orleans, that made a flood. That was three days ago. That hasn't had much to do at all with this storm. Now we really are getting that circulation. It will happen over the next 12 hours. As the 12 hours go on, the rain will get heavier and heavier.
WHITFIELD: OK. So, Chad, let's go to another update now. This one coming from the governor of Louisiana, there in Baton Rouge. Let's listen in and see what they're bracing for.
JOHN BEL EDWARDS, (D), LOUISIANA GOVERNOR: -- the state exits somewhere on the Louisiana/Arkansas border. Again, the quicker to do that the better.
The track did shift slightly to the west. However, it is well within the cone that we were told to expect from the National Weather Service so there were no real surprises there.
Rainfall remains the primary hazard. We are still looking at 10 to 15 inches of rain with the possibility of higher isolated amounts. As we all know, however, it doesn't take much saturation of the ground so that even slighter winds can have a devastating impact with respect to trees falling onto houses and highways and so forth, as well as utility poles. So power outages will be significant and, in fact, are already significant in some areas of the state.
While rainfall remains the number-one threat, we're also experiencing storm surge flooding that will continue throughout the day.
Tropical storm-force winds will also likely impact much of the southern part of the state. In fact, if you look at it, they're going to extend from Cameron Parish in the west over to Lake Pontchartrain, in the east, and now well north of Alexandria as the storm continues to move north.
Any time you have a storm like this, there's a possibility of tornadoes. We ask people to be very careful of that.
We are keeping a close eye on the rivers across south Louisiana, all the way from the Mementhal (ph) in the west to the Terrebonne River in the east, and actually even further than that. But with particular eyes upon the Comite and Amite Rivers here in the capital region.
Based upon regional experience that we had in 2016, we do expect the Comite to crest very close to if not higher than the crest in August of 2016. That is obviously not good news here. We expect the Amite to crest right around the crest of the 1983 flood levels. That's a little better than in 2016 but still a very serious flood threat.
Some good news is that the gauge at the -- the Carrollton gauge of the Mississippi River in New Orleans is expected to crest at 17.1 feet. As of yesterday, we were expecting that crest to be 19 feet. Even at 19 feet, we didn't anticipate the river overtopping levees anywhere. We can say now that the rivers will certainly not overtop the levee anywhere on the Mississippi.
The U.S. Coast Guard did rescue 11 people from their flooded homes in the lower portion of Terrebonne Parish. That area is outside the hurricane protective system of Terrebonne and was under a voluntary evacuation order.
[13:45:11] I want to pause to thank the Coast Guard for doing that. Incredibly important that those services were available. And they have the expertise and the equipment to be able to make those rescues, even by air during the period of the storm when most other air assets are not able to fly. And so that's another federal resource that has been brought to bear here in the state of Louisiana to protect life and that's critically important.
I do want to clear up a little bit of misinformation going around. The overtopping that has occurred in Plaquemines Parish is not the Mississippi River levee. It is a back levee in the vicinity of Myrtle Grove and it points further south.
At this point, Highway 23 in Plaquemines Parish has not been overtopped. It has not been closed. But that is certainly possible going forward. And this validates the decision that President Kirk Lepine made to have a mandatory evacuation in Plaquemines Parish. We actually anticipated that the back levee would be overtopped and so we are not surprised by what has happened.
But what everyone should understand, no Mississippi River has been overtopped. And not a single levee in the state of Louisiana as of right now has failed or breached.
Finally, I want to share with everyone that if you are in need of a shelter, you can text lashelter, to 898211, or you can call 211 to find the list of shelters that are open in your area. Again, text lashelter, that's all one word, lashelter, to 898211, or call 211.
I also want to caution everybody this is just the beginning. I ask everyone to stay vigilant and be safe.
This has always been projected to be a rain/flood event and it will be. The vast majority of the rain that's falling right now is falling in the gulf. That will soon change as the storm continues to move north.
WHITFIELD: All right, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards imploring everyone to be vigilant and be safe. He did want to clarify a few things. He offered new information of the Coast Guard conducting rescues of 11 people.
He said, while there has been an overtopping of a back levee in Myrtle Grove, in Plaquemines Parish, it is not the Mississippi River. And he said no Louisiana levee has failed or been breached at this juncture. But for everyone to be vigilant and safe there as Hurricane Barry continues to pummel along the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi.
We'll have much more straight ahead after this.
[13:52:08] WHITFIELD: All right. This breaking news now. It was Hurricane Barry moments ago. Now it's a tropical storm.
Let's check in with CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers.
What's it doing?
MYERS: You know, I told you, we'd tell you as soon as it happened. And that was three minutes ago. Now the Hurricane Center has said that this thing made landfall as a hurricane over intracoastal city Louisiana and has now weakened to a T.S. A 70-mile-an-hour storm. So losing five miles per hour from the 75-mile-an-hour threshold to be a category 1 or a T.S. That's like making an omelet with 11 eggs or 12 eggs and trying to tell the difference, really.
This is still going to be the rainmaker that we anticipated. This is going to be the storm that puts down rainfall that people haven't seen in a long time. They have been -- people there have been very worried about how much rain is coming in. And then for 48 hours, nothing really has happened.
But now because the center is on shore, the center is going to move to the north. And all of that rain that was south of the storm, Fred, now it's going to be on land, because the low is going to move to the north. So all the rain that's down here is going to be here.
Then it's going to move up and it's only going to move up at six miles per hour. That is too slow for my liking. That's the speed almost where Harvey was when it was meandering around west of Houston. We don't have this stormy storm meandering, but it is moving very, very slowly.
WHITFIELD: Right. And equally damaging, because just because it's been downgraded to a tropical storm, it's the wind. It's no longer 74 miles per hour but still dumping rain, moving slow, as you mentioned. Still very threatening and potentially dangerous.
MYERS: It is no less dangerous right now than it was five miles per hour ago.
WHITFIELD: All right.
MYERS: Absolutely, you are correct. Yes.
WHITFIELD: All right, Chad, thank you so much.
MYERS: You're welcome. WHITFIELD: Oh, you know what? I'm going to tell you more about what
the governor just said moments ago. The Louisiana governor saying there have been no levees that have been breached throughout the state of Louisiana. But flooding is definitely, indeed, still a major threat for so many areas.
Our Ryan Young is in New Orleans for us.
So what's it looking like? OK, you do at least have some rain. But tell me how people are feeling about these elements.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know what, Fred, I think the one thing Chad is talking about, the fact the storm is moving so slowly. So you have so many people here who are tourists who are, like, when is it coming? They want to get something to eat. They have been walking around, looking to see if any shops would be OK. And, of course, a lot of the shops are closed.
You look at the mighty Mississippi out there and we have seen the water rising in terms of the water levels over the last 24 hours or so. But people are looking for impact. And I can tell you, even the city understands people are getting frustrated.
In fact, listen to the mayor imploring people to stay inside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:55:05] LATOYA CANTRELL, (D), NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: I want to just thank the citizens of New Orleans. You heeded the call and you stayed off of our streets after 8:00 p.m. last night.
We will remain consistent with that message again this evening, asking you to stay off the streets, being prepared to shelter in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Fred, people are getting restless. A lot of folks coming over to our position and asking us, when is this going to go away, because we don't see a storm. But, of course, you listen to Chad and you hear it's slow-moving, we could get that rain they're talking about.
Let's not forget Wednesday, when the city was hit with a lot of rain over a short period of time, really impacting the city. We'll have to see what happens next as the storm continues to roll in.
WHITFIELD: Yes, I love, with a sense of humor, how you mention when people want to know when they can get something to eat. Because, hello, people go to New Orleans --
WHITFIELD: -- because the food is good and you want to get something to eat. But as the mayor said, you've got to be safe right now.
WHITFIELD: Ryan Young, thank you so much.
All right. Let's head over to Morgan City. And that's where we find Natasha Chen, where the conditions are really not improving, at least it appears to be the case.
Describe what's happening.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, there's definitely a lot more rain than there was about an hour ago when I last spoke to you.
And I've come down the steps to take a look here. I'm not going to take any further steps down, that would be a bad idea. Just wanted to show you that there are definitely more steps down this stairwell. The river level has risen since we were here this morning significantly. Again, we are getting more rain than just an hour ago.
Throughout the city, we are hearing of more down trees and power lines. And we also know and we have seen images of a roof torn off a building. So definitely this is still coming through.
And people are being told to stay inside if they possibly can, because it is definitely not over. Though we have seen people driving by, trying to take a look, just interested in the river here.
The mayor, of course, told us that yesterday he brought in new pumps, extra pumps, to try and handle all the rainfall that's coming in. Because those pumps can handle the first five inches and then maybe one inch of rain extra per hour. But not if 10 or 20 inches come in a concentrated way all at once.
And, of course, this morning, they had to help a nearby city rescue a family whose power line had fallen on their mobile home.
And, of course, the St. Mary Parish folks are concerned about anyone with medical calls right now, because it's hard to get to them if roads are blocked -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.
Natasha Chen, thank you so much for the update. And get back up those stairs, young lady. In Morgan City. Thank you.
All right. Coming up, millions under threats of flooding as Hurricane Barry bears down on the gulf coast. More live updates from the ground, next.