Tropical storm Harvey has made landfall again along the Gulf Coast, coming ashore early Wednesday in Louisiana, after setting a new continental U.S. record for rainfall amounts.
Harvey is targeting an area eight kilometres west of Cameron, La. with maximum sustained winds of 72 km/h but is expected to weaken through the day and continue to the north.
The storm is forecast to drop substantial amounts of rain on Louisiana before moving on to Arkansas, Tennessee and parts of Missouri.
“We are starting to get down to the end of the tunnel of all this rain,” said Roger Erickson, meteorologist with the U.S. National Hurricane Centre.
Harvey first made landfall Friday in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. It then lingered over Texas for days before meandering back into the Gulf of Mexico.
The dangers for those caught in the floodwaters remain far from over. With at least 18 dead and 13,000 people rescued in the Houston area and surrounding cities and counties in Southeast Texas, others were still trying to escape from inundated homes. Meanwhile, weakened levees were in danger of failing.
Authorities expect the human toll to continue to mount, both in deaths and in tens of thousands of people made homeless by the catastrophic storm that is now the heaviest tropical downpour in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, Harvey broke the record for the greatest amount of rain ever in any storm, anywhere, in the continental United States, dumping just over 125 centimetres (more than 4 feet).
Forecasters say another 13 to 25 centimetres of rain could fall in western Louisiana.
“We are starting to get down to the end of the tunnel of all this rain,” Erickson said.
But he warns some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain effectively because Harvey’s winds are pushing in storm surge, aggravating flooding in areas already drenched by more than 51 centimetres of rain. Gusts up to 80 km/h are predicted for coastal areas and up to 65 km/h in the Louisiana city of Lake Charles and along the Interstate 10 corridor.
Lake Charles in storm’s path
State offices in 28 parishes and most Baton Rouge area schools won’t open Wednesday in anticipation of possible severe weather.
“You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us, but with the people in this room, I’m confident we can handle it,” Gov. John Bel Edwards told local and state officials during a visit Tuesday to Lake Charles, which is near the Texas border.
Edwards said Louisiana also has offered to shelter storm victims from Texas. He said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer.
Hurricane Katrina anniversary
Harvey’s devastating flooding brought back tough memories in New Orleans as Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Mitch Landrieu opened his Tuesday news conference with a moment of silence for Katrina victims and words of support for Harvey’s victims in Texas and southwest Louisiana.
“We’ve got to save our house,” New Orleans resident Israel Freeman said as he loaded sandbags for his mother’s home into his Cadillac. “She already went through Katrina. She built her house back up. We just had a flood about two, three weeks ago. She just recovered from that.”
Bradley Morris lives in a ground-level house in New Orleans and was “preparing for the worst.”
“There’s plenty of puddling and stuff already,” he said, “so I just assume that we’re probably going to get a taste of what we had a couple weeks ago.”
New Orleans, La., Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged…