CNN
Now playing
01:33
Flooding hits Louisiana as residents brace for hurricane
Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Simone Biles (USA) wears her warm up gear after competing on the vault during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Danielle Parhizkaran/USA Today Sports
Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Simone Biles (USA) wears her warm up gear after competing on the vault during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Now playing
01:47
'Worst nightmare': Simone Biles withdraws from team finals
Getty Images
Now playing
01:49
Cheney and Kinzinger respond to McCarthy over committee comments
Popular syndicated conservative radio personality Phil Valentine has started a new podcast with his adult son, Campbell, that has nothing to do with politics. The father and son record a podcast in their cabin in Brentwood on Thursday, March 7, 2019. 

Nas Philvalentineandson 01
Shelley Mays/Nashville/Shelley Mays, / The Tennessean
Popular syndicated conservative radio personality Phil Valentine has started a new podcast with his adult son, Campbell, that has nothing to do with politics. The father and son record a podcast in their cabin in Brentwood on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Nas Philvalentineandson 01
Now playing
04:50
Conservative radio host changes tune on Covid-19 vaccination
Church of Glad Tidings
Now playing
01:16
Reporter calls out Flynn's comment after being given an AR-15
Now playing
03:36
'Dangerous and stupid': ER physician on packed, maskless Trump event
Now playing
03:05
Doctor: 'We've all lost patients here in the last few weeks'
Sara Holton Gard wants officials to set a mask rule for all that would make it easier to enforce.
CNN
Sara Holton Gard wants officials to set a mask rule for all that would make it easier to enforce.
Now playing
03:29
Debate escalates over masks as the start of school year approaches
Now playing
04:30
Fox News viewers are less likely to get vaccinated, poll shows
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin, China, on July 26, 2021.  Beijing has indicated that the U.S. is treating China as an "imaginary enemy" after the meeting between top diplomats Sherman and Wang.
Sherman Meets With Wang in Tianjin, China, Beijing - 26 Jul 2021. U.S. State Department/UPI/Shutterstock
U.S. State Department/UPI/Shutterstock
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tianjin, China, on July 26, 2021. Beijing has indicated that the U.S. is treating China as an "imaginary enemy" after the meeting between top diplomats Sherman and Wang. Sherman Meets With Wang in Tianjin, China, Beijing - 26 Jul 2021. U.S. State Department/UPI/Shutterstock
Now playing
01:09
Chinese official: The US portrays China as an imaginary enemy
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks with doctors and nurses working at the French Polynesia Hospital Centre in Papeete following his arrival for a visit to Tahiti in French Polynesia on July 24, 2021.
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks with doctors and nurses working at the French Polynesia Hospital Centre in Papeete following his arrival for a visit to Tahiti in French Polynesia on July 24, 2021.
Now playing
01:15
See what Macron said about anti-vaccine protesters
CCTV
Now playing
00:51
See sandstorm engulf city in China
Dr. Michael Bolding vpx
Dr. Michael Bolding vpx
Now playing
03:37
Hear doctor's emotional plea for people to get vaccinated
The US Navy has finally acknowledged footage purported to show UFOs hurtling through the air. And while officials said they don't know what the objects are, they're not indulging any hints either.
US Department of Defense
The US Navy has finally acknowledged footage purported to show UFOs hurtling through the air. And while officials said they don't know what the objects are, they're not indulging any hints either.
Now playing
05:47
The 'baffling' thing about UFO tech that has security experts worried
AFPTV
Now playing
00:31
See disaster-stricken lagoon turned pink
Gov. Kay Ivey gives the State of the State Address to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in the old house chamber of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/AP
Gov. Kay Ivey gives the State of the State Address to a joint session of the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in the old house chamber of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Now playing
01:00
Alabama governor: It's time to start blaming unvaccinated folks
Pool
Now playing
02:06
WaPo: This is what Trump's PAC is spending its money on

Editor’s Note: How are you preparing for Tropical Storm Barry? When it’s safe, you can text, iMessage or WhatsApp your videos, photos and stories to CNN at +1 347-322-0415

CNN —  

Samantha Kincaid was forced to evacuate during Hurricane Gustav in 2008, her first year in New Orleans. Now, she’s leaving again.

This week’s widespread flooding in New Orleans ahead of a slow-moving storm system made her uneasy, she told CNN in a Facebook message.

“Being stuck in the flood and then waiting for the waters to go down was a real wake up call,” said Kincaid, who made plans Thursday to head to west to Lafayette. “I was lucky to not have my car stall out.”

CNN

As a dangerous weather system spinning toward the Gulf coast intensified Thursday to become Tropical Storm Barry, some Louisiana residents aren’t taking any chances and are choosing to evacuate. Others say they plan to ride the storm out.

Barry is the first tropical storm to threaten the United States this year. The forecast shows it as a tropical storm at landfall, possibly by Saturday morning on the Louisiana coast, probably west of New Orleans. There is a significant chance that Barry could be a hurricane, with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour, when it makes landfall.

But it’s not the wind that makes this storm so treacherous. It’s the colossal rainfall and massive storm surge.

“This is a life-threatening situation,” the National Hurricane Center said. Those in the storm’s path should “take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.

Streets in New Orleans turned into lakes after getting pummeled with up to 9 inches of rain Wednesday – a day before the system was declared a tropical storm.

The Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans was flooded Wednesday.
Nick Reimann/AP
The Broadmoor neighborhood in New Orleans was flooded Wednesday.

Whether to stay or whether to go

Claire Hartley Grogan of New Orleans said she too was preparing to evacuate. She will probably head toward Florida and have a “hurrication.”

The Mississippi River was too high, and she was scared to stay.

“My entire life, I have lived blocks from the Mississippi River and not been scared. Today, and for the last month or so, [I] have been terrified,” she said.

Pamela Hughes said she will ride out the storm in her mother’s trailer in Port Sulphur, south of New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish, which is under a mandatory evacuation order.

But Hughes said she knows the risk and is staying, even though the trailer isn’t on high ground.

“I really don’t think it’s going to be too bad,” she said.

Hughes says she’s prepared with gas, food and water. She said the levels of the Mississippi River near Port Sulphur, and the nearby bayou, look low to her.

But Hughes said she evacuated her mother, who has breast cancer and recently got out of the hospital.

As of late Thursday, Barry was hurling winds of 50 mph in the Gulf of Mexico, but it’s expected to continue to intensify, the National Hurricane Center said.

Because Barry is a slow-moving storm – crawling across the Gulf at just 3 mph – it will hover over the same places for a long time, dropping relentless rain and adding to widespread flooding.

CNN

The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the Louisiana coast from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle.

The mayor and town council in Grand Isle, on a barrier island the Gulf of Mexico, ordered everyone to evacuate Thursday.

“We are expecting a rain fall total that can range from 6” to 10”,” they said in a statement. “We will be experiencing unusual high tides that will range more than 3 feet above ground.”

Baton Rouge, which is northwest of New Orleans, is expected to get 10 to 15 inches of rain. Resident Rusty Miller said that his experience with previous storm evacuations taught him to hunker down and hope the electricity stays on. He is staying put for now. But this time, he said, he’s worried about flooding.

“As long as this thing doesn’t stall, we should be fine,” Miller said.

Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle are also at risk for extreme rain, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said Thursday.

Follow the storm here

An unprecedented challenge

Barry will inundate Louisiana at a terrible time: when rivers like the Mississippi are already extremely high.

“This is the 258th day of a flood fight on the Mississippi River,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday.

Unusually high river levels will lead to an unprecedented challenge when Barry makes landfall.

“This is the first time we’ve had a tropical system with water levels on the river this high,” said Jeffrey Graschel, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center.

In New Orleans, the Mississippi River was more than 16 feet high on Thursday. At this time of year, it should be more like 6 to 8 feet, Graschel said.

In the coming days, the river could crest at 19 feet, 1 foot lower than previously forecast. But the bloated river is still risky, because New Orleans is protected only to a height of 20 feet.

In preparation for the onslaught, Louisiana officials have started closing floodgates. The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority has about 250 floodgates, spokesman Antwan Harris said.

More than 200 floodgates in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes are expected to be closed by Friday to protect the area from the expected storm surge, local media reported.

Louisiana’s governor warned that “no one should take this storm lightly,” as 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall within 24 hours between Friday and Saturday.

The governor sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a federal declaration of emergency as the storm approached.

He also declared a state of emergency and urged residents to have a contingency plan for family and pets.

The US Postal Service temporarily relocated operations to other parts of the state due to mandatory evacuations.

’The calm before the storm’

In one part of New Orleans, some residents have remained calm.

Heather Cafarella, a bartender at R Bar, said people didn’t appear to be panicking. She asking each other if they’re going to evacuate is almost like asking “how’s the weather?”

“It’s not just the hurricane. We flood when there’s heavy rain. It doesn’t take much, unfortunately,” Cafarella, 41, said.

She glanced outside at a sunny, dry street. “The calm before the storm is so deceiving,” she said.

CNN’s Faith Karimi, Dave Hennen, Monica Garrett, Amanda Watts, Joe Sutton, Taylor Ward, Christine Sever, Jamiel Lynch, Michael Nedelman and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.