Barry spares New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tropical Depression Barry spared New Orleans and Baton Rouge from catastrophic flooding, but even as it weakened and moved north through Arkansas, its trailing rain bands swamped parts of Louisiana with up to 17 inches of rain and transformed part of the Mississippi Delta into “an ocean.”

As of Monday evening, with the center of the storm about 105 miles northwest of Little Rock, the National Weather Service said flash flood watches remained in effect in southeast Texas through the lower Mississippi Valley.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to produce up to 4 inches of rain — and in isolated spots as much as 8 inches — across Arkansas, western Tenn­essee and Kentucky, southeast Missouri, and northwest Mississippi.

No fatalities or serious injuries reported from Barry.

Some of the earliest fears that the storm posed didn’t play out: A shift in its path decreased the possibility of major Mississippi River levees being overtopped at New Orleans, where catastrophic levee breaches along canals devastated the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And the torrents of rain forecasters had said were possible — portending repeats of catastrophic Baton Rouge area flooding in 2016 — didn’t happen.

“This was a storm that obviously could have played out very, very differently,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “We’re thankful that the worst-case scenario did not happen.”

But the storm was still a huge headache for many. Levees were overtopped along waterways in some coastal parishes. More than 90 people were rescued because of high water in at least 11 parishes, Edwards said.