Hurricane Barely

Pike County sheriff's deputy Brian Mullins shuts the trunk of a car after loading it with sandbags in Fernwood as Hurricane Barry approaches landfall on Saturday. 

Barry was a bust.

The storm, which was forecast to produce up to 25 inches of rain and damaging wind in places, spawned tornado and thunderstorm warnings as it moved across southwest Mississippi over the weekend, bringing occasionally gusty bands of rain.

But with no damage reported to structures, widespread power outages or roads left impassable by downed trees, the end result was a good soaking rain and relief from sweltering summer temperatures.

Damage from Barry, the first hurricane and second named storm of the 2019 season, was less widespread than anticipated, with south Mississippi counties left wet but intact.

Barry, which became a short-lived Category 1 hurricane on Saturday, tracked further west than anticipated, sparing this area.

The system weakened to a tropical storm Sunday afternoon after making landfall on the Louisiana coast. It further weakened to a tropical depression late Sunday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On Sunday evening Barry was located about 20 miles north-northeast from Shreveport, La.

Barry produced isolated thunderstorms along with tornado and flash flooding warnings for Southwest Mississippi throughout Sunday and into Monday morning.

Pike County and the surrounding area was fortunate to weather the storm unscathed, Pike County Civil Defense director Richard Coghlan said Monday, after Barry’s remnants had passed through.

“The local impact has been really, really minimal,” he said.

A swiftwater rescue team from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security was stationed at a fire station in McComb ahead of forecast life-threatening flash flooding, but Coghlan said they had an uneventful weekend.

“The swiftwater team did some training while they were here, performed some exercises, but that was it. No real-world action this time around,” he said.

On Saturday, Pike County Supervisor Tazwell Bowsky, along with volunteer firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and inmates handed out sandbags on Airport-Fernwood Road.

Pike County was expected to receive up to 20 inches of rain over the weekend with the possibility of receiving up to 25 inches of precipitation in isolated incidences. Data from the National Weather Service show that most of Southwest Mississippi took on about 3 to 4 inches of rain instead.

Walthall County Emergency Management Operations director Royce McKee said the county experienced a number of downed power lines and a few broken power poles in addition to some property damage. Intense wind tore off a chimney to a house and a trailer and barn had roofs ripped off, he said.

In Amite County, tornado warnings blared from sirens on Sunday, but there were no reported injuries or damages to property as a result of the storm, Amite County Civil Defense Director Grant McCurley said.

While Southwest Mississippi was mostly spared from the brunt of the storm, local volunteers were helping organizations in southern Louisiana where the impact was more intense.

The PALS Rescue animal shelter served as a staging point for three busloads of dogs from evacuated shelters in St. Mary, Iberia, Vermillion, St. Martin and Ascension parishes that were en route to shelters in Kansas City, Maryland and Chicago for adoption.

“We're trying to move them to out-of-state rescues out of the danger zone,” said Jessica Cameron of the Humane Society of Louisiana. “The hope is to free up animals that have to evacuate those temporary shelters.”

Barry was an anomaly of a hurricane, its origins beginning as a low pressure system over Kansas on July 4 that moved east over the mountains of Tennessee and northern Georgia before menacing the Florida Panhandle, dipping down into the Gulf of Mexico and gaining strength.  

Meanwhile, Barry’s impacts on other areas are still being felt. Intense flooding throughout Alabama has prompted public warnings regarding water and seafood consumption.

More than 180,000 gallons of sewage spilled near Mobile Bay in Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

More than 80,000 gallons of sewage spilled into three creeks throughout Mobile on Monday morning.

Louisiana, which received the brunt of the impact from the storm, was particularly hard hit in terms of the resulting emergencies as well. Barry was only the fourth hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana in July since record-keeping began in 1851.

While experts were not worried about hurricane-strength winds, many considered the storm to be a test of the post-Katrina flood infrastructure in New Orleans. With the Mississippi River near flood stage for months at this point, many throughout Louisiana were unsure if the city’s floodgates and levees would hold. They did.

Barry dumped more than 15 inches of rain throughout southwest and south-cental Louisiana with much of it falling since early Monday.

Louisiana ordered the mandatory evacuation of Terrebonne Parish on Saturday after reports of levees overtopping in Terrebonne and Plaquemines parishes emerged.

More than 90 people had been rescued in 11 parishes throughout Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office reported.

Throughout Louisiana, roughly 51,000 people were without power on Sunday night. Add 1,800 people from Mississippi and another 1,700 from Arkansas to that total.

Now that Barry has made its way north through central Louisiana, it is expected to hover over Arkansas for a while, dumping its long-held water over the Mississippi Delta. The Delta has already suffered significant flooding throughout the year, with the Yazoo Basin expected to flood even more due to the torrential amount of rain forecast to accompany Barry.

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