Rescue efforts intensified Sunday as historic rain that paralyzed much of southeastern Louisiana eased, while floodwaters continued to bring havoc to the battered region.
State Police helicopters delivered food and water to hundreds of motorists stuck for more than 24 hours in flooding near Baton Rouge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said late Sunday that more than 10,000 people were in shelters and more than 20,000 people were rescued across south Louisiana. The Baton Rouge River Center, a major events location in the capital city’s downtown, was to be opened Sunday as a shelter to handle the large numbers of evacuees.
Four people have been reported dead, said Devin George, the state registrar for vital records. The death toll rose Sunday when a man’s body was found washed up on a riverbank in Tangipahoa Parish.
Parts of the area have been blasted by up to 25 inches of rain since Friday. The weather improved Sunday, but Edwards warned that flooding issues will continue for days.
“This is a serious event, ongoing,” Edwards said at a Sunday news conference. “It’s not over.”
The Amite and Comite rivers were among those hit with record flooding. Jeff Gaschel, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said some areas of the Amite River won’t crest until Monday. He said the area had similar rainfall amounts in 2001, but over a longer period of time.
The weather was improving, with forecasts calling only for occasional pop-up storms that are common in Louisiana this time of year, he said.
“We are not in control as far as how fast these floodwaters will recede, and in fact they are still going up in some places,” Edwards said. He urged residents not to venture out because the sun did. “We are asking everyone to be patient,” he said.
Edwards, who was forced to flee the governor’s mansion with his family due to flooding, said he sought a federal disaster declaration to expedite assistance to families and businesses.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: USA Today, Greg Hilburn and John Bacon