United States President, Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Barry bears down on New Orleans and the city prepares for extreme winds over the weekend.
According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the weather system in the low-lying southern American city is expected to reach hurricane strength by Friday or early Saturday when it nears Louisiana’s coast.
Trump on Thursday issued a national disaster declaration which will allow federal agencies to participate in emergency relief efforts in response to a request by Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards.
“Thank you President Trump for quickly responding to my request. We appreciate the support of the White House and our federal partners as we continue our unprecedented flood fight,” Edwards said in a tweet on Thursday.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separately announced that it would temporarily halt immigration enforcement activity in areas subject to the state of emergency.
It said the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency would not target migrant families who were evacuating during the storm ahead of sweeping operations to detain and deport illegal immigrants which is expected to start this weekend.
“Our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety. In consideration of these circumstances, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to the storm, except in the event of a serious public safety threat,” the agency said in a press release.
The incoming storm has also evoked memories of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and deadliest hurricane in US history which submerged about 80 percent of New Orleans as the city’s flood defenses gave way.
Katrina also pounded other parts of Louisiana as well as Mississippi and Alabama, leading to about 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damages.