National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said pockets of Louisiana could get as much as 25 inches (63 centimeters) of rain. Some low-lying roads near the coast were already covered with water Friday morning as the tide rose and the storm pushed water in from the Gulf of Mexico.

NEW ORLEANS — Homeowners sandbagged their doors and tourists trying to get out of town jammed the airport Friday as Tropical Storm Barry began rolling in with the potential for an epic drenching that could prove whether New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana learned the lessons of Hurricane Katrina over a decade ago.

With the strengthening storm expected to blow ashore early Saturday near Morgan City as the first hurricane of the season, authorities rushed to close floodgates and raise the barriers around the New Orleans metropolitan area of 1.3 million people for fear of disastrous flooding.

About 3,000 National Guard troops along with other rescue crews were posted around the state with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. Drinking water was lined up, and utility crews with bucket trucks moved into position in the region.

"This is happening. ... Your preparedness window is shrinking," National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned. He added: "It's powerful. It's strengthening. And water is going to be a big issue."

While 10,000 people or more in exposed, low-lying areas along the Gulf coast were told to leave, no evacuations were ordered in New Orleans, where city officials instead urged residents to "shelter in place" starting at 8 p.m.

"My concerns are just hoping it's not going to be another Katrina," said Donald Wells, a restaurant cook in New Orleans.

Forecasters said slow-moving Barry could unload 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 centimeters) of rain through Sunday across a swath of Louisiana that includes New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well as southwestern Mississippi, with pockets in Louisiana getting 25 inches (63 centimeters).

The storm's leading edges lashed the state with bands of rain for most of the day, and some coastal roads were already under water Friday morning.

Barry was expected to arrive as a weak hurricane, just barely over the 74 mph (119 kph) windspeed threshold. But authorities warned people not to be fooled by that.

"Nobody should take this storm lightly just because it's supposed to be a Category 1 when it makes landfall," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "The real danger in this storm was never about the wind anyway. It's always been about the rain."

Authorities took unprecedented precautions: The governor said it was the first time all floodgates were sealed in the New Orleans-area Hurricane Risk Reduction System. Still, he said he didn't expect the river to spill over the levees.

Workers also shored up and raised the levee system in places with beams, sheet metal and other barriers.

Barry's downpours could prove to be a severe test of the improvements made to New Orleans' flood defenses since the city was devastated by Katrina in 2005. The Mississippi River is already running abnormally high because of heavy spring rains and snowmelt upstream, and the ground around New Orleans is soggy because of an 8-inch torrent earlier this week.

The Mississippi is expected to crest Saturday at about 19 feet (5.8 meters) in New Orleans, where the levees protecting the city range from about 20 to 25 feet (6 to 7.5 meters) in height. That could leave only a small margin of safety in some places, particularly if the storm were to change direction or intensity.

"The river should be taken seriously. It's a really powerful river," said Nadia Jenkins of New Orleans. She hadn't yet decided whether to leave but wasn't taking any chances: "We're prepared. We've got stuff stocked up. Car is gassed."

Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent storms and floods, but without extensive study they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

Late Friday afternoon, Barry was about 70 miles (115 kilometers) southeast of Morgan City, with winds of 65 mph (100 kph). Tracking forecasts showed the storm continuing on toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts.

In Baton Rouge, Kaci Douglas and her 15-year-old son, Juan Causey, were among dozens filling sandbags at a fire station. She planned to sandbag the door of her townhouse. "I told my son it's better to be safe than sorry," she said.

In New Orleans, Adam Slocum and his wife got ice, water and extra food, filled their generator with gas and parked their cars on higher ground at a nearby grocery store. Still, he said he wasn't too concerned about his house.

"My house is raised, and being this close to the river we typically don't have too many problems," he said.

Elsewhere in New Orleans, a group of neighbors took it upon themselves to clean out the storm drains on their street. Working as a team to lift the heavy metal covers off, they discovered that most of the drains were full of dirt, leaves and garbage.

All over town, people parked their cars on the city's medians — referred to around here as "neutral grounds" — in hopes their vehicles would be safe on the slightly elevated strips.

Tourists converged on the airport in hopes of catching an early flight and getting out of town ahead of the storm. At least one convention — that of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority — was cut short by a day. A Rolling Stones concert was postponed from Sunday to Monday.

Katrina caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans 14 years ago and was blamed for more than 1,800 deaths in Louisiana and other states, by some estimates.

In its aftermath, the Army Corps of Engineers began a multibillion-dollar hurricane-protection system that isn't complete. The work included repairs and improvements to some 350 miles (560 kilometers) of levees and more than 70 pumping stations.

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NEW ORLEANS — Building toward hurricane strength, Tropical Storm Barry began hitting Louisiana with wind and rain Friday as it closed in what could be a long, slow drenching that could trigger flooding in and around New Orleans.

With the storm expected to blow ashore by early Saturday, National Guard troops and rescue crews were stationed around the state with boats and high-water vehicles, helicopters were on standby, drinking water and blankets were made ready for distribution, utility crews with bucket trucks moved into position, and homeowners sandbagged their property or packed up and left.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said pockets of Louisiana could get as much as 25 inches (63 centimeters) of rain. Some low-lying roads near the coast were already covered with water Friday morning as the tide rose and the storm pushed water in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Graham said that Barry had a "small chance, maybe" of becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season as it comes ashore, but added: "That's not the point here." The real danger, he said, is not the wind but the rain.

New Orleans could get its worst drenching in decades, possibly eclipsing the city's wettest day on record — 12.24 inches (32 centimeters)— on May 8, 1995, forecasters said. The storm could also shatter Baton Rouge's one-day record rainfall of 11.99 inches (30 centimeters) from April 14, 1967.

The downpours are expected to pose a severe test of the improvements made in New Orleans' flood defenses since the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The Mississippi River is already running abnormally high because of heavy spring rains and snowmelt upstream, and the ground around New Orleans is soggy because of an 8-inch drenching on Wednesday.

"There are three ways that Louisiana can flood: storm surge, high rivers and rain," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "We're going to have all three."

Edwards said on Thursday that authorities do not expect the river to spill over its levees, but cautioned that a change in the storm's direction or intensity could alter that.

President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts.

As of Friday morning, Barry was about 95 miles (155 kilometers) southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi, with winds around 50 mph (80 kph), well short of the 74 mph (119 kph) hurricane threshold.

Tracking forecasts showed the brunt of the storm blowing into the Louisiana delta west of New Orleans on a path that could continue toward Chicago, swelling the Mississippi River basin with water that must eventually flow south again.

About 10,000 people in Plaquemines Parish on Louisiana's low-lying southeastern tip were ordered evacuated on Thursday.

Among the last to leave were 65-year-old Clarence Brocks and his family. The Plaquemines Parish native evacuated many times before and had to rebuild after Katrina wiped out his home. But he said he wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

"I was born and raised here. This is all I know," the Air Force veteran said. "I've been all over the world and guess where I want to be at? Right here."

With lightning flashing in the distance and some streets already covered with water from heavy rains, shoppers at an Albertsons grocery store in Baton Rouge stripped shelves bare of bread. Half the bottled water was gone.

Kaci Douglas and her 15-year-old son, Juan Causey, were among dozens filling sandbags at a fire station in Baton Rouge. She planned to put the bags around the door of her townhouse. "I told my son it's better to be safe than sorry," she said.

Meanwhile, utility crews who may be needed after the storm filled hotel parking lots along Interstate 59 in southern Mississippi.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Thursday that the pumping system that drains the city's streets was working as designed after the rain and flash floods earlier this week but that Barry could dump water faster than the pumps can move it.

"We cannot pump our way out of the water levels ... that are expected to hit the city of New Orleans," she warned.

However, the city did not plan to order evacuations because Barry was so close and because it was not expected to grow into a major hurricane. Officials instead advised people to keep at least three days of supplies on hand and to keep their neighborhood storm drains clear so water can move quickly.

Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans 14 years ago and was blamed altogether for more than 1,800 deaths in Louisiana and other states, by some estimates.

In its aftermath, the Army Corps of Engineers began a multibillion-dollar hurricane-protection system that isn't complete. The work included repairs and improvements to some 350 miles (560 kilometers) of levees and more than 70 pump stations that are used to remove floodwaters.