BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Memories of an epic flood that caused billions of dollars in damage had Louisiana’s capital on edge Friday as Barry gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) away.
Storms that dumped more than 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain across southeastern Louisiana three years ago left much of Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes under feet of muddy, putrid water. A dozen people died and more than 50,000 homes , businesses, churches and other structures were flooded.
So with forecasters predicting as much as 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain across inland areas northwest of New Orleans and a flooding threat that could extend into next week, many people weren’t taking any chances.
In a neighborhood just a few hundred feet from the Amite River and a creek, Tiffany Favre and her son Brandon Favre used wooden blocks to lift a new couch off their den floor. The ‘16 flood left 1 foot (30 centimeters) of water in her home, she said, and neighbors who stayed had to be plucked out by rescue helicopters.
“I’m going to get some sand bags to put in front of the doors, because that’s where it seeps in,” said Favre, who just finished painting the last set of furniture that was damaged three years ago.
To help reduce the flooding threat in Baton Rouge, the city said it pumped 2 feet (60 centimeters) of water from a lake into the Mississippi River so the reservoir can hold more runoff once the torrents begin.
A few miles away, Kaci Douglas and her 15-year-old son, Juan Causey, were among dozens of people filling sand bags at a fire station. The city said it had placed 665 tons (600 metric tons) of sand and nearly 100,000 bags at about a dozen locations for residents to use.
Douglas moved into her current home, a two-story apartment near a creek, after the 2016 flood, but she knows what happened there: About 2 feet (60 centimeters) of water swamped the first floor.
Recounting that deluge and discussing her concerns about Barry, Douglas urged Juan to keep working despite the heat and the weight of the sand.
“I told my son it’s better to be safe than sorry,” she said.