New Orleans was hit with widespread flooding on Wednesday from heavy rain spawned from a weather system that forecasters warned could grow into a hurricane capable of causing severe
Authorities have warned of "extreme rain" and flooding if the storm makes landfall by early Saturday as the first Atlantic hurricane of 2019.
The storm-surge watches warn residents of possible flooding from rising waters and coastal inundations in the city, known worldwide for its Mardi Gras and jazz.
Torrential rain damaged cars, garages, basements, attics, stores, roads and factories and interrupted railway services, the regional government said in a statement.
The rain was preceded by strong winds laden with dust, accompanied by lightning and thunder, as well as hailstone.
Before the storms moved into Mississippi, the weather service reported multiple tornadoes and damaging winds over much of northern Louisiana. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Utility companies reported thousands of power outages.
The cyclone killed 27 people in the Solomons late last week before barrelling southeast to directly hit Vanuatu as a Category Five, obliterating entire towns in the northern provinces.
As of 2am on Sunday, the storm’s center was located about 405 miles (650 kilometers) south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the US National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
At least 10 NDRF teams are also kept on stand-by as the cyclonic storm is likely to hit the coastal districts with "very heavy rainfall" on Wednesday evening.