Hurricane Barry has weakened into a tropical depression, with its maximum sustained winds last recorded at 32 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center’s most recent advisory Monday, July 15th. However, people living in the southern U.S. aren’t out of danger quite yet—major flooding may be in store for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
Initial damage reports show several downed trees in Louisiana and Mississippi, and at least two levees in Louisiana reportedly overflowed, according to a report from The Weather Channel. However, New Orleans levees appear to have held. Several utility poles were also toppled, and around 150,000 people were out of power on Sunday morning. Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards confirmed that 90,000 still had no power by Sunday night.
Several thousand soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard were activated and deployed across the state to aid in disaster relief. The soldiers filled sand bags and ensured emergency generators at critical infrastructure points had adequate fuel. On Sunday night, as the storm continued to move northward, Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, told reporters during a press conference he was “rightsizing” his storm deployments.
Coast Guard crews also rescued at least 11 people during the storm.
What the region is now worried about is continued flooding, as the slow-moving storm will continue to unleash several inches of rain as it weakens and moves north. According to a report from CNN, tornado development is also possible.
Still, Hurricane Barry proved a litmus test for the state of Louisiana’s emergency response capabilities. About two weeks before the storm struck the state, a large portion of the Louisiana National Guard was training at Fort Polk during their rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC).
While at JRTC, Louisiana guardsmen completed a simulated combat deployment. The soldiers were “in the box” for a little more than three weeks. During that time, they operated in the field 24-hours-a-day. The exercise is notoriously taxing on units, yet guardsmen were needed to for hurricane response shortly after returning home from Fort Polk.