Update: The death toll in Texas related to Hurricane Harvey rose to at least 47 on Friday, CNN reports.
This story was originally published on August 30, 2017.
A weakened Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall in southwest Louisiana early Wednesday, leaving residents bracing for more wind, rain, and possible tornadoes and hoping water would stay out of their sandbagged homes.
The storm came ashore before dawn just west of Cameron, LA, bringing maximum sustained winds near 45 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Harvey had lingered over Texas for days before meandering back into the Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters said there was a risk of tornadoes across a large part of the South as Harvey trudged northeast toward northern Louisiana. The national Storm Prediction Center said a few tornadoes were expected to develop Wednesday in northeast Louisiana and across southern and central portions of Mississippi. Tornadoes would also be possible across parts of southern and central Alabama, near the eastern edge of Harvey's rain bands. At least five tornadoes from Harvey have been confirmed so far in Louisiana, although they have caused little damage.
Another 1 to 3 inches of rain could fall in western Louisiana, with up to 6 inches in spots, with the heaviest rain inland.
"We are starting to get down to the end of the tunnel of all this rain," Meteorologist Roger Erickson said.
Harvey appeared to have produced little damage overnight in southwest Louisiana, where hundreds of people were rescued from floodwaters earlier this week, officials said. Harvey's heaviest rains continued to stay west of Louisiana, just across the Sabine River in Texas. Lake Charles recorded less than 1 inch of rain overnight.
"We're not out of the woods totally, but we're looking much better," Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said
The heaviest overnight rain bands also spared New Orleans, where sun broke through the clouds after daybreak and schools reopened Wednesday after closing a day earlier.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu had urged New Orleans residents to stay home Tuesday because of the threat of potential high water. Some neighborhoods flooded earlier this month during a deluge that exposed problems with the city's pump and drainage system. On Tuesday, rains flooded a few of the city's streets, but not to the same extent.
State offices in 28 parishes and most Baton Rouge area schools won't open Wednesday in anticipation of possible severe weather. Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to remain alert but said the state is responding well to less severe conditions in its own borders.
"You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us, but with the people in this room, I'm confident we can handle it," he told local and state officials during a visit Tuesday to Lake Charles, which is near the Texas border.
Edwards said Louisiana also has offered to shelter storm victims from Texas. He said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer.
Harvey's devastating flooding brought back tough memories in New Orleans as Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Mitch Landrieu opened his Tuesday news conference with a moment of silence for Katrina victims and words of support for Harvey's victims in Texas and southwest Louisiana.
"We've got to save our house," New Orleans resident Israel Freeman said as he loaded sandbags for his mother's home into his Cadillac. "She already went through Katrina. She built her house back up. We just had a flood about two, three weeks ago. She just recovered from that."
Bradley Morris lives in a ground-level house in New Orleans and was "preparing for the worst."
"There's plenty of puddling and stuff already," he said, "so I just assume that we're probably going to get a taste of what we had a couple weeks ago."
About 500 people were evacuated in southwest Louisiana's most populous parish early Tuesday, as a heavy band of rain pushed waterways out of their banks, Calcasieu Parish spokesman Tom Hoefer said. He said as many as 5,000 parish residents were affected by the flooding, but not all of those people have flooded homes. Some are just cut off by flooded roads.
Family members and authorities in Texas have reported at least 20 deaths from the storm. No Harvey-related deaths were immediately reported in Louisiana, according to a spokesman for Edwards.