Louisiana flooding threats are far from over. While the torrential rains have eased, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the water in many areas is expected to rise further, according to NBC News. More than 24 inches of rain have fallen in some parts of the state already.
At least six people are reported dead, while over 20,000 have been rescued and many of those are living in temporary shelters. In addition to some nursing homes, one hospital in the Baton Rouge area had to be evacuated. Many drivers have been stranded on the interstate while trying to flee the high waters. More than 1,500 motorists needed assistance over the weekend.
There have been both devastating tragedies and acts of heroism. One woman heard the cries of a 4-year-old boy clinging to a tree limb after the car he was in was swept off the road. She was able to save him, but the woman driving the car drowned. A 68-year-old man slipped and fell while leaving his home and remained underwater until his body was found later in the day, as reported by the Weather Channel.
In another dramatic rescue, two men on a boat rescued a woman from a flooded car. One of the men jumped into the turbulent water and was able to get the woman out. After telling him a dog was still inside the car, the man swam underwater and was able to pull out the animal. Authorities have also been checking abandoned homes for stranded pets.
More than 7,000 people have been rescued from flooding in Louisiana, and as many as 20,000 have been displaced: pic.twitter.com/1tLDldqf3K— Mic (@mic) August 15, 2016
In response to the flooding, the National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard have been called in to assist rescue efforts. They are using helicopters and high water vehicles to move stranded residents. Louisiana and Mississippi are both under a state of emergency.
Louisiana Governor Edwards has also been evacuated from his residence. The governor’s mansion has been flooded and electricity cut, forcing Edwards and his family to flee to safety.
Up to six rivers have smashed record levels since Friday. The water levels have spurred comparisons to the devastation after Hurricane Katrina is 2005, and that storm caused another state of emergency for Louisiana. The most devastation occurred around New Orleans, which was nearly 80 percent underwater. Katrina killed almost 2,000 people and left thousands homeless. Rebuilding is still ongoing.
Louisiana flooding: five dead, 20,000 rescued so far – video https://t.co/QVezbg51KV— The Guardian (@guardian) August 15, 2016
There are various ways to help victims of the flooding. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are taking donations. People can volunteer to help and donate much-needed items such as diapers, toiletries, and bottled water.
In addition to the imminent dangers posed by the rising water, there are growing health risks, as reported by ABC News. Bacteria from the dirty water is a concern. It can cause infection and disease such as E. coli, norovirus, and tetanus. Any flood victims with wounds are urged to get a tetanus shot if they haven’t had one over the last 10 years.
Flooding also means increased insect populations and resulting mosquito-borne infections. People are advised to stay away from areas of stagnant water.
There are now displaced poisonous snakes who may find shelter in homes or cars. People should be careful when returning to their properties.
Houses may develop mold after all the water damage. Increased respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies could result.
A lack of clean water and heatstroke are other issues that could harm residents that have been left without working plumbing and electricity.
The heavy rains are expected to move northeast into Missouri and Illinois over the next few days. For now, residents of Louisiana are urged to stay safe. In the aftermath of the storm, they will need to assess the long-term damage.
[Photo by Max Becherer/AP Images]