Gulf Coast keeps guard up as Barry continues drenching

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Weakened but still potent, Barry inundated the Gulf Coast as it continued its slow advance Sunday morning, bringing fresh fears of flash flooding to Mississippi's capital city even as it appeared unlikely to deluge New Orleans.

In Mississippi, up to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain had already fallen in the Jackson area before dawn Sunday — and more was on the way. That prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning for the city and some of its suburbs.

President Donald Trump asked people across the region to keep their guard up, saying on Twitter: "A big risk of major flooding in large parts of Louisiana and all across the Gulf Coast. Please be very careful!"

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Hurricane Michael survivor Yvette Beasley stands in her front yard during a wellbeing check by a 50 Star Search and Rescue team in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A 50 Star Search and Rescue team passes a sign reading "Slow Watch for Children," knocked over by Hurricane Michael, along the swollen Chipola River in Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018. 

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Jessica Melvin hugs her step-daughter Angelena Sawyer (R) while waiting for an ambulance arranged by a 50 Star Search and Rescue team for Sawyer's acute untreated appendicitis following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team leader Zach Smith treats Cody Hatcher's foot wound at a Hurricane Michael relief center at Fountain's Victory Tabernacle church in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A search and rescue team from 50 Star Search and Rescue follows ambulances after Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team member John Basehore brings Angelena Sawyer (C) and Jacob Sibilia (R) home after Sawyer was taken to the hospital for untreated acute appendicitis, found during a wellbeing check by a 50 Star Search and Rescue team earlier in the day, following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

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50 Star Search and Rescue team members Robert Pepper (L) and John Basehore study a map of the search area following Hurricane Michael in Youngstown, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team leader Zach Smith (R) checks the damage from Hurricane Michael to the home of Glenda Kronfol in Youngstown, Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Angelena Sawyer (C) and Jacob Sibilia (L) look at their three-month-old daughter Seraphina as 50 Star Search and Rescue team leader Zach Smith (R) checks on the medical condition of Sawyer, who required an ambulance to treat acute appendicitis, following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A search and rescue team from 50 Star Search and Rescue works amid debris from Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Denny Chevillot greets a search and rescue team from 50 Star Search and Rescue following Hurricane Michael along the Chipola River in Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team member John Basehore (C kneeling) checks the medical condition of Angelena Sawyer (L) as Jacob Sibilia and her step-mother Jessica Melvin (R) look on, following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Angelena Sawyer, who has untreated acute appendicitis, waits for medics to arrive during a wellbeing check by a 50 Star Search and Rescue team following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

The Lama family hold hot meals prepared by Operation BBQ Relief and delivered by a 50 Star Search and Rescue team following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A 50 Star Search and Rescue team passes a no trespassing sign while working on the swollen Chipola River following Hurricane Michael in Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team member Robert Pepper clears debris from the yard of Yvette Beasley after Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Medics take Angelena Sawyer to the ambulance for her untreated acute appendicitis during a wellbeing check by a 50 Star Search and Rescue team following Hurricane Michael in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018. 

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team member Zach Smith cleans and bandages a foot wound on Jessica Melvin following Hurricane Michael at her home in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team members John Basehore (L) and Zach Smith study a map of their search area following Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S., October 17, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

50 Star Search and Rescue team members and volunteers unload a pallet of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) at a relief center at Fountain's Victory Tabernacle church in Fountain, Florida, U.S., October 18, 2018.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

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Forecasters warned of a continued threat of storm surge and heavy rains as the center of the storm slowly trudged inland and rain bands along its back half moved onshore. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Sunday parts of south-central Louisiana could still have rainfall totals of up to 12 inches (30 centimeters), with isolated pockets of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters).

"This rainfall is expected to lead to dangerous, life-threatening flooding," forecasters wrote in an advisory Sunday morning.

Still, the storm's first wave had not inundated New Orleans as feared, with the city experiencing moderate rain Saturday. Forecasters downgraded rainfall estimates for the city through Sunday to between 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters). Earlier forecasts of quadruple that amount had raised concerns that water pumps strengthened after Hurricane Katrina would be overwhelmed.

National Weather Service forecaster Robert Ricks cautioned, however, that it was too early to say for certain that New Orleans was in the clear. "We're about at the (halfway) mark of the marathon right now," he said Saturday evening.

Late Saturday night, authorities were trying to rescue a family of five who was trapped by high water in the south Louisiana town of Franklin, according to KTBS-TV . The National Guard had to halt its initial rescue mission because waters were too high to safely reach the family's home. Franklin is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Lafayette.

In other parts of Louisiana on Saturday, Barry flooded highways, forced people to scramble to rooftops and dumped heavy rain as it made landfall near Intracoastal City, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of New Orleans. Downpours also lashed coastal Alabama and Mississippi.

After briefly becoming a Category 1 hurricane, the system weakened to a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center said. By Sunday morning, its maximum sustained winds had fallen to 45 mph (72 kph), the National Hurricane Center said in its latest briefings.

In Mandeville, a city on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain across from New Orleans, storm surge and choppy waters sent waves pushing over the seawall and into nearby communities.

Water was covering Lisa Keiffer's front yard and the road in front of her house Saturday. It wasn't in danger of going in the house, but she was worried about her nearby business. She and her husband own a candy store featuring homemade fudge, jars filled with gummy bears and other candies. As the storm approached, they had scrambled to raise merchandise off the floor.

"It's very stressful because you don't know if you're going to flood, so you go all through the trouble of picking things up, raising things, moving things, and then it looks like it's not going to flood, and then 10 minutes later it looks like it's going to flood," she said.

Elsewhere, Coast Guard helicopters rescued a dozen people and two pets from flooded areas of Terrebonne Parish, south of New Orleans, some of them from rooftops, a spokeswoman said.

None of the main levees on the Mississippi River failed or were breached, and they were expected to hold up through the storm, Gov. John Bel Edwards said. But a levee in Terrebonne Parish was overtopped by water for part of the day, officials said. Video also showed water getting over a second levee in Plaquemines Parish, where fingers of land extend deep into the Gulf of Mexico.

Many businesses were also shut down or closed early in Baton Rouge, and winds were strong enough to rock large pickup trucks. Ricks said forecasters also downgraded their rainfall estimates for Baton Rouge to between 6 and 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) through Sunday, with up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) in some spots.

Oil and gas operators evacuated hundreds of platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 140,000 customers in Louisiana and another more than 4,000 customers in Mississippi were without power early Sunday, according to poweroutage.us.

Barry was expected to continue weakening and become a tropical depression Sunday, moving over Arkansas on Sunday night and Monday. But forecasts showed the storm on a path toward Chicago that would swell the Mississippi River basin.

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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Kevin McGill and Rebecca Santana in New Orleans; Jay Reeves in Baton Rouge; Juan Lozano in Lafayette; Rogelio Solis in Morgan City; and Jeff Martin in Atlanta.

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For the latest on Tropical Storm Barry, visit https://apnews.com/Hurricanes .

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