NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana is under a State of Emergency.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed the declaration Thursday morning as Hurricane Harvey strengthened in the Gulf. It’s hard to predict the storm’s impact on Louisiana this early, but state and local emergency planners are preparing for heavy rains, street flooding and possibly more.
Forecasters predict parts of Louisiana could see 10-to-15 inches of rain over several days, but the Governor stressed that the storm’s impact, particularly on a vulnerable New Orleans, are uncertain.
“There is nothing about the current forecast, related to Harvey, that causes us any additional concerns with respect to New Orleans, but we do note that there is a potential – a possibility perhaps I should say – that Harvey does re-enter the Gulf and move back towards Louisiana,” Edwards said.
New Orleans is preparing for torrential downpours starting late Sunday and lasting through mid-week.
"This is an unfortunate set of circumstances where we’re having a threat at a time when we’re not in our strongest position,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
The city is pre-positioning high-water-rescue vehicles, boats and barricades in preparation for the worst. They’ve also been beefing up first responder staffing beginning this weekend, including all hands on deck at the NOPD.
“We’re encouraging the public to do all they can to prepare as we do in any weather event,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “Get a plan. Prepare to protect your personal property.”
Landrieu admits the city still has 15 broken drainage pumps out of 120. Some of those same pumps were not working during the Aug. 5 flood.
While the city works to restore its drainage capability, the mayor said he does not anticipate having to call for an evacuation.
“It doesn't appear so at this time, again, that's why we're calling everybody into focus,” Landrieu said. “Watch us, listen to us, we'll give you updated suggestions based on the best information that we have.”
Lakeview business owners, who flooded earlier this month, say it’s a shame many people are now thinking about evacuating for Harvey because of the diminished drainage capacity in New Orleans.
Historically, the trigger for an evacuation was a category 3 hurricane making landfall along the Louisiana coast. Harvey is currently expected to come ashore in Texas.
“Now, it’s a little bit of rain and we might need to get out,” Adam Hogan with Art Avenue said. “That’s not the direction I want to see us move as a city.”
No officials are calling for an evacuation in Louisiana.