LAFAYETTE, La. — Residents across south Louisiana spent Friday racing the clock to prepare before Tropical Storm Barry makes landfall. Now they wait.
Thousands lined up at sandbagging stations across the Lafayette area Friday. Neighbors helped neighbors fill countless bags to protect their homes against potentially life-threatening flooding.
"We don't just watch each other struggle, we're all family around here," Justin Monteleon told 12News. "Everybody is just trying to help everybody."
Tropical Storm Barry could become a category one hurricane before landfall Saturday morning near Morgan City, Louisiana. The National Weather Service in Lake Charles warns of heavy rain, storm surge and damaging winds.
"People could be trapped in homes due to the flood waters," the NWS posted in a news release Friday afternoon. "Damaging winds will cause scattered to numerous power outages, trees blown down and damage to homes and businesses across south Louisiana."
Lafayette, Louisiana's airport has been turned into a staging center to help with possible evacuations and rescues. Mark Bourgeois with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says homeless and elderly people in the storm zone remain vulnerable.
"We gotta help them," Bourgeois said.
As of Friday afternoon, only voluntary evacuations were in place in Lafayette ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. Residents with special needs, living in mobile homes or low lying areas were being asked to evacuate. Several cities and parishes in Louisiana have implemented curfews.
LADOTD says they're trying to bring in school and charter buses from surrounding parishes to help with high-water rescues.
Storm surge over three feet is expected for coastal sections of Vermilion, Iberia and St. Mary Parishes, according to the NWS Lake Charles.
Gas crews say they expect to fill up about a hundred buses in Lafayette before the storm makes landfall.
Members of the Louisiana National Guard tell 12News they could be in the Lafayette area for up to a week helping with emergency evacuations.