Tropical Storm Barry is nearing hurricane strength as it approaches the Louisiana coast, compounding flooding from an already high Mississippi River. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center issued a warning about a life-threatening storm surge.
“This is the first time we’ve had a tropical system with water levels on the river this high,” Jeffrey Graschel, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in Slidell, Louisiana, told CNN.
Even though the storm had yet to make landfall on Friday, business throughout the region was already affected.
The Port of New Orleans closed to incoming traffic on Thursday. Cargo loading stopped at most terminals, Supply Chain Dive reported, and a Carnival cruise ship was diverted to Alabama, according to NOLA.com.
Citing a Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement notice, Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Gulf of Mexico operators had shut-in 1.01 million barrels a day of oil production because of the storm. “Almost 1.24 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas production is also closed,” the outlet said.
Allegiant Air and British Airways cancelled flights to and from the Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans. Long term parking at the airport was closed on Friday, NOLA.com reported.
Hotels in New Orleans experienced numerous cancellations, including the Chateau LeMoyne French Quarter. Ben Turner, general manager of the hotel, told NOLA.com, “We have a storage room with all of the supplies necessary, some food, a whole bunch of water, batteries, flashlights and all the necessities.” The hotel also expects a delivery of sandbags, and has supplies for boarding up windows.
Speaking with Environmental Leader for the special report EHS Management: A Look Forward To 2019, Stericycle’s Maricha Ellis said that a little bit of pre-planning for a hurricane goes a long way. Her advice:
- Review your hazardous waste inventory
- Track the path of the hurricane using websites and other online tools
- Store your containers in a secure area and verify proper closure
- Make sure waste is segregated to avoid reactions, and keep spill kits available and well stocked
- Review your facility’s contingency plans and understand evacuation routes
- Communicate emergency response contractor information with your employees
Energy company Entergy, which has more than a million customers in Louisiana, suggested that business executives download their free app at entergyapp.com to report outages or check on the status of power at their facilities, NOLA reported.
Estimates for how much damage this storm will do varied. A disaster modeler with Enki Research told Bloomberg that the natural disaster is likely to cause about $800 million to $900 million in damage. However, if floodwaters overwhelm New Orleans, that figure could jump to $3.2 billion.