NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After days of lumbering toward the Gulf Coast, the storm system Karen dissipated late Sunday morning as storm preparations in the region were called off or scaled back.
The remnants of the storm still had the potential to unleash heavy rains on low-lying areas. But southeastern Louisiana parishes lifted evacuation orders, and Plaquemines Parish closed a shelter where more than 80 people had taken refuge Saturday.
"We got some rain, no street flooding, so we're looking pretty good. ... We're not expecting any flooding," Plaquemines Parish spokeswoman Caitlin Campbell said.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the remnants of Karen were moving eastward off the coast at about 13 mph (21 kph). Forecasters expected what remains of Karen — which had been a tropical storm, then a depression — to continue moving generally east over the next day to two days. Maximum sustained winds remained near 30 mph (48 kph), with higher gusts, and forecasters said localized coastal flooding could still occur along portions of the coast. Rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) were expected.
Even as residents breathed a sigh of relief, forecasters and emergency officials warned them to keep an eye on developments.
Wind and waves uncovered tar balls on the beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and crews headed out Sunday to check on them, Mayor David Camardelle Jr. said. He said he was sure they were from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
In Lafitte, Louisiana, Mayor Timothy Kerner said he was relieved the storm lost steam and didn't continue to push up the tide in his flood-prone community. The water lapped at the edge of the main roadway through town in some low-lying areas but stopped short of flooding streets and lawns.
Vessel traffic at the mouth of the Mississippi River, halted since Friday morning, resumed at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, the Coast Guard said. Two cruise ships delayed by the storm were expected at New Orleans on Sunday, Carnival Cruise Lines said in a news release.
Emergency operations were also scaled back In Mississippi and Florida as the storm system weakened.
Plaisance reported from Lafitte, Louisiana. Associated Press reporters Melissa Nelson and Suzette Laboy in Pensacola, Florida, and Jay Reeves in Gulf Shores, Alabama, contributed to this story.