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Archive for Sunday, August 5, 2001

Gulf Coast in Barry’s sights

August 5, 2001

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— Tropical Storm Barry stalled Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico and looked likely to bypass Louisiana and hit Alabama or the Florida Panhandle when it began moving.

"Our official track does bring it inland somewhere between Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. We are seeing a rightward adjustment to the track," National Hurricane Center meteorologist Hugh Cobb said.

The news was a relief to Mayor David Camardelle of Grand Isle, Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island. He didn't have to order the island's 1,455 residents to leave.

"We're just going to watch it hour to hour through the night and see what's going to happen next," said Camardelle, who had asked tourists to leave at about noon Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center extended its tropical storm warning from the Mississippi River Delta region, including Grand Isle and New Orleans, eastward to Apalachicola, Fla.

Tropical storm watches were in effect from Grand Isle west to Morgan City, La. A disturbance sliding south across Louisiana was likely to pull the storm north, Cobb said.

Southeast Louisiana is likely to get high tides, showers and thunderstorms, but should escape the worst of the storm, forecasters said.

Some people enjoyed the beach on Saturday or went fishing, but others made preparations, just in case.

"People have been getting sandbags since yesterday, when we started putting them out," said Mike Deroche, head of emergency preparedness in Terrebonne Parish, 60 miles southwest of New Orleans.

Rangers at Grand Isle State Park put trash barrels and signs inside, moved picnic tables out of high-tide range, warned people to keep children out of the water and notified campers that the grounds would be closing. Lifeguards urged people not to even wade in the water.

"They think they can go in up to their knees and be all right, but the undertow is so strong that it will pull you out before you realize it," lifeguard Kim Haber said at Gulf Shores, Ala.

Barry already had dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of Florida before moving into the Gulf of Mexico.

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