NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says none of the main levees on the Mississippi River in the state has failed or been breached so far because of Tropical Storm Barry.
But he warned at a news conference on Saturday that the storm is just beginning and the state faces significant threats in the days ahead.
Authorities have previously said water was flowing over the tops of a few levees in areas south of New Orleans. But those are not the main levees protecting the Mississippi River.
The storm threatening the Louisiana coast weakened from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it made landfall.
Barry has made landfall in Louisiana and has weakened to a tropical storm.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm arrived on land Saturday afternoon near Intracoastal City.
The center is warning of dangerous storm surge, heavy rains and strong winds.
National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said that Barry had gathered “a big slough of moisture” and was expected to dump rain on the area throughout the weekend.
He describes Barry’s slow-moving trajectory as enabling it to gather immense amounts of water that it will eventually dump over saturated areas well inland, flooding rivers and creeks.
The heaviest rains on land from lopsided Hurricane Barry have hit coastal Alabama and Mississippi the hardest.
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said Saturday that parts of his barrier island in Alabama are flooded from both the driving rain early Saturday and surging water from the Gulf of Mexico.
Collier was driving around in a Humvee to survey the damage. He said the island still has power and wind damage was minimal.
The Category 1 hurricane was nearing shore some 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Dauphin Island, but Collier says the island often sees impacts from storms far away.
The storm threatening the Louisiana coast has strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. Saturday advisory that Barry had reached maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph), with higher gusts.
Hurricane-force winds were measured some 45 miles (75 km) to the east of the storm’s center, which was located 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Lafayette, Louisiana. It was moving northwest at 6 mph (9 kph).
Weather forecasters said a hurricane warning is in effect for Intracoastal City to Grand Isle. Such a warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area.
Authorities say water is flowing over the tops of a few levees in areas south of New Orleans as Tropical Storm Barry nears the coast.
Officials said Saturday morning the levees are in lower Plaquemines Parish and are not the main levees protecting the Mississippi River.
Plaquemines Parish emergency workers told news outlets they are getting crews to check the levees and make any repairs needed.
The levees are near Myrtle Grove and Pointe Celeste, and the water is threatening Highway 23, one of the main roads through the parish.
Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told WVUE-TV anyone who remains south of Myrtle Grove should evacuate from the finger of low-lying, flood prone land that follows the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Much of Plaquemines Parish had been under an evacuation order since Thursday.