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Flooded roads, rail and port disruptions as Hurricane Barry comes ashore in Louisiana

Hurricane Barry made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday, July 13, and immediately weakened Hurricane Barry made landfall in Louisiana on Saturday, July 13, and immediately weakened into a tropical storm with 70 mile per hour winds. As it did, though, it has caused disruption to travel and cargo movement in the region, leading to closed highways, ports, and suspension of rail service.

Before the storm, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suspended certain hours-of-service (HOS) regulations in 21 states for those fleets and/or drivers directly involved in relief efforts following the storm.

“Right now you can only drive for 11 hours straight, but if you want to provide relief, moving a load from Indiana to Louisiana, for example, you would be allowed to drive straight through,” an FMCSA source told FreightWaves. The interstate highway distance between Indianapolis, Indiana, and New Orleans, Louisiana, is roughly 850 miles.

Drivers providing direct assistance such as drinking water, generators, and other temporary relief are exempt from HOS regulations in all states on their route to the emergency, even if those states are not included in the stated emergency declaration, according to the FMCSA.

Flooding is a concern in Louisiana, as one of the levees in Myrtle Grove was already facing overtopping before the storm hit. The state’s lieutenant governor said the levee could only sustain a few hours of overflow before it breeched.

In an early afternoon press conference, Governor John Edwards stressed that no levee in the state had failed or was breeched. “No Mississippi River levee has been overtopped, and not a single levee in the state of Louisiana — as of right now — has failed or breached,” he said.

Barry’s official landfall was near Intracoastal City, approximately 150 miles west of New Orleans.

Roads throughout the region were already covered in water. The Coast Guard said most roads in Grand Isle, Louisiana, were impassable. The Louisiana Department of Transportation, as of 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2019, was reporting numerous road closures due to water on the roadway. These routes included state routes 317, 182, 1077, 3196, 3078, and 3102 as well as US-51 and US-11. Off-ramps along Interstate 55 were also being affected by water, with closures being reported in some locations. Some lanes on LA-70 near Morgan City were also closed.

A map of major road closures in Louisiana, as of 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, 2019. (Photo: Louisiana Department of Transportation)

LADOT issued the following advisory to truckers for flooded routes:

LA 1 Closed south of Golden Meadow due to high water start 7-12-19 (Lafourche parish)
US 11 Closed at flood gates south of I10 due to impending severe weather start 7-12-19 (Orleans parish)
LA 39 Closed at flood gates in Caernarvon due to impending severe weather…start 7-12-19 (St Bernard parish)
LA 45 Closed at flood gate due to impending severe weather near Crown Point start 7-12-19 (Jefferson parish)
LA 56 Closed at flood gate near Cocodrie just south of junction with La 57 due to impending severe weather start 7-12-19
LA 70 Closed due to flooding approx. 8 miles south of La 997 near Stephensville start 5-29-19 ufn (St Martin parish)
LA 300 Closed at flood gates in Reggio due to impending severe weather start 7-12-19 (St Bernard parish)
LA 1077  Closed due to flooding south of Colleen Court to Lake Ponchartrain in Madisonville…start 7-12-19 (St Tammany parish)

The full list of trucker restrictions in the state is available here:

The Pontoon Bridge over Humble Canal on LA 3147 in Freshwater City was closed to traffic earlier in the day.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) said shipments to and from New Orleans are being impacted due to the closure of flood gates. “Precautionary actions are being taken to protect infrastructure, and rail equipment is being repositioned away from the low-lying areas,” the company said in a statement. “Norfolk Southern is working with customers located in the forecasted region to identify switching needs.”

BNSF is also telling customers that service has been disrupted.

The Port of New Orleans halted all cargo operations on Friday. It has not provided an update as to when it will return to normal operations.

Now-Tropical Storm Barry is expected to dump upwards of 20 inches of rain, and maybe even 2 feet in some locations, before it leaves the area, which is seems to be doing slowly as it advances at just 6 mph.

Flash flood watches are in effect for the lower Mississippi Valley including parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

Barry is expected to continue inland over the next several days, weakening significantly. The forecast track calls for its moving through Louisiana into Arkansas by Monday morning and up into Missouri Tuesday.

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at