4 Sep 2011

Tropical storm drenches New Orleans

2:52 pm on 4 September 2011

A slow-moving tropical storm is bringing torrential rains to Louisiana on the United States' southern coast.

The centre of Tropical Storm Lee is off the Louisiana coast and expected to crawl ashore in the next few days.

The storm was expected to bring up to 50cm of rain to southeast Louisiana over the next few days.

Flood defences in the low-lying city of New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, were expected to be put to the test.

Half the city lies below sea level and is protected by a system of levees and flood gates.

The city's extensive levee system has pumped away about 20cm of rain so far, with isolated reports of flooding in roads and homes. Some residents in one parish were ordered to leave their homes.

The system can process about 2.5cm of rainfall per hour, but the storm's slow-moving nature could bring challenges, officials said.

Hurricane Katrina flooded 80% of the city and killed 1500 people.