Deadly storms wallop Gulf Coast: One dead in Mississippi as tornado rips through Louisiana and heavy rains leave floods throughout New Orleans bring back Katrina memories

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Written By Maya Cantina

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Deadly storms are battering the Gulf Coast, bringing flash floods that are drowning New Orleans streets and putting millions from Texas to the Florida panhandle. 

In Mississippi, at least one person is confirmed dead from the storms, one person is injured and dozens of properties have been damaged as the storms wreck havoc on the south. The name of the person killed has not been released. 

Downpours bringing between five to eight inches of rainfall have caused flooding in New Orleans, putting traffic to a standstill.

Heavy rain, flash flooding and severe weather threat associated with an intensifying low-pressure system is forecast to sweep across the region, according to the National Weather Service.

‘We believe there will be double-digit tornadoes produced by the severe weather outbreak, and multiple tornadoes could be on the ground at the same time on Wednesday despite less-than-perfect atmospheric conditions,’ AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.

Forecasters said strong damaging winds, which may exceed 75 mph, could wreak havoc across the region knocking down trees and poles.

A tornado reportedly touched down in Slidell, Louisiana, destroying property and cars

The National Weather Service issues a flash flood emergency in New Orleans as the heavy rain inundated the roads

The National Weather Service issues a flash flood emergency in New Orleans as the heavy rain inundated the roads

As of 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, 122,148 customers are without power in Louisiana, 55,059 in Mississippi, 41,321 in Texas and 9,517 in Alabama, according to Poweroutage.us.

Here is what is happening across the Gulf Coast 

TEXAS

In the Lone Star State, several people were rescued from homes and vehicles Wednesday morning when flooding inundated parts of Jasper County, near the Louisiana line, authorities said.

‘The City of Kirbyville remains under water and is still the major concern at this time,’ the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said on social media.

All major roads into Kirbyville, a town of about 2,000 people, were shut down early Wednesday due to the flooding, the sheriff’s office said.

Damage from a tornado on Wednesday in in Katy, Texas

Damage from a tornado on Wednesday in in Katy, Texas

Authorities work at the scene where a tornado damaged several businesses

Authorities work at the scene where a tornado damaged several businesses

Several people were rescued from homes and vehicles Wednesday morning in Texas

Several people were rescued from homes and vehicles Wednesday morning in Texas

All major roads into Kirbyville, a town of about 2,000 people, were shut down early Wednesday due to the flooding

All major roads into Kirbyville, a town of about 2,000 people, were shut down early Wednesday due to the flooding

In the Houston suburb of Katy, strong thunderstorms that passed through the area around 2 a.m. Wednesday collapsed part of the roof of a Firestone repair shop.

Storms also damaged businesses and cars in a nearby strip mall, including sending a large air conditioning unit that had been on the roof crashing to the parking lot, officials said. 

LOUISIANA 

In Louisiana, state office buildings closed Wednesday since the storms were expected to blast the state during rush hour, the governor’s office announced.

Officials also asked drivers to limit travel if possible and warned that high winds were expected to affect large trucks.

The National Weather Service issues a flash flood emergency in New Orleans, Chalmette and Meraux until 2 p.m. CT, as heavy rainfall made it impossible to cross roads.

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans told CNN that four inches of rain and exceptional rainfall rates nearing five inches per hour were reported at some pumping stations – overwhelming the city’s drainage systems.

‘This means 5 inches of rain could take up to 3 hours to drain, depending on rain intensities and the ability for storm water to quickly drain toward our pumping stations,’ SWBNO spokesperson Grace Birch said. ‘This is a significant rainfall event.’

Video posted on social media showed a Tesla truck attempting to drive through flooded New Orleans streets

Video posted on social media showed a Tesla truck attempting to drive through flooded New Orleans streets

In Slidell, just outside New Orleans, multiple people were injured and first responders were scouring neighborhoods after reports of a tornado touching down

In Slidell, just outside New Orleans, multiple people were injured and first responders were scouring neighborhoods after reports of a tornado touching down

People walk past their heavily damaged cars after they sheltered in place in Slidell due to a reported tornado

People walk past their heavily damaged cars after they sheltered in place in Slidell due to a reported tornado

In New Orleans, floods had washed out downtown making it difficult for cars to traverse the roads

In New Orleans, floods had washed out downtown making it difficult for cars to traverse the roads

Severe storms are battering the Gulf Coast, bringing flash floods and tornado warnings for millions from Texas to the Florida panhandle - including in New Orleans where rain has flooded downtown

Severe storms are battering the Gulf Coast, bringing flash floods and tornado warnings for millions from Texas to the Florida panhandle – including in New Orleans where rain has flooded downtown

Storm clouds roll across New Orleans as water rises in the Treme neighborhood on Wednesday

Storm clouds roll across New Orleans as water rises in the Treme neighborhood on Wednesday

Louisiana State University announced its campus would close Wednesday

Louisiana State University announced its campus would close Wednesday

Similarly in December, breakdowns in the New Orleans sewerage system led to flooding that reminded citizens of the flaws in the of drainage system that have been problematic since Hurricane Katrina, reported Nola.com.

In Slidell, just outside New Orleans, multiple people were injured and first responders were scouring neighborhoods after reports of a tornado touching down Wednesday morning.

‘They had businesses that partially collapsed, apartment complexes. Trees are down everywhere, power lines are down everywhere,’ said Daniel Suezeneau, a spokesperson for Slidell police.

Police reported over 50 rescues and said there are some people with minor to moderate injuries after Slidell experienced the brunt of the storm.

One of the nation´s largest universities – Louisiana State University – announced its campus would close Wednesday due to ‘the developing severe weather situation.’

By 1:30 p.m., the National Weather Service recorded nearly seven inches of rain in Mandeville, over six inches in Slidell and four inches in Covington, according to Nola.com.

MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed one person has died in Scott County as a result of the storm and one person has been injured in Grenada County. 

Video shows hail storms pounding down through central Mississippi Tuesday night, reported WJTV.

Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones said multiple trees and power lines are down throughout western and northern Hinds County, including Learned, Raymond, Old Port Gibson Road and Pocahontas.  

Governor Tate Reeves said at least 72 homes have been either damaged or destroyed in Grenada, Hinds, Marshall, Scott, Warren and Yazoo County.

Severe storms damage a home in Pelahatchie, Mississippi.

Severe storms damage a home in Pelahatchie, Mississippi.

Video shows hail storms pounding down through central Mississippi Tuesday night

Video shows hail storms pounding down through central Mississippi Tuesday night

Downed trees have resulted in multiple roads being closed in Hinds and Yazoo County

Downed trees have resulted in multiple roads being closed in Hinds and Yazoo County

Downed trees have resulted in multiple roads being closed in Hinds and Yazoo County.

‘It’s extremely important to keep in mind that our state is expected to experience more severe weather today,’ the governor said.

‘There’s a real possibility that the situation could get worse before it gets better. Please prepare in advance of today’s storms — it can be the difference between life and death and keeping your family safe.’

ALABAMA  

The Alabama Department of Transportation reported a flooded roadway on eastbound Interstate 90 near the I-10 interchange in Spanish Fort that is causing moderate delays Wednesday morning.

Dozens of school districts announced early dismissals due to the risks of tornadoes, according to AL.com.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Sumter, Marengo, Dallas, and Lowndes counties until 5 p.m.

Severe storms are battering the Gulf Coast, bringing flash floods and tornado warnings for millions

Severe storms are battering the Gulf Coast, bringing flash floods and tornado warnings for millions

Forecasters said the main flooding threat is across southern Alabama where they predict two to four inches of rain is possible. 

Waterfront Rescue Mission opened its severe weather shelter for individuals seeking temporary shelter from the storm, reported WEAR.

FLORIDA 

As the severe storms approach the Florida panhandle, one school district closed and two are having an early dismissal, reported Pensacola News Journal.

Escambia County Public Schools and district offices closed, the Santa Rosa School District will follow an early release schedule and Okaloosa County schools will dismiss one hour earlier.

A tornado watch was issued for Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties until 5 p.m. 

The National Weather Service forecasted storms could bring wind gusts up to 80 mph, strong tornadoes and quarter-sized hail to the area.

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