Louisiana Floods: Governor John Bel Edwards Declares State Of Emergency

Predicting heavy downpour and floods for the next few days, a state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana by its governor, John Bel Edwards. Heavy rains lashed the central U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday, leaving people stranded in homes with waist-high water. The floods also left two people dead. The declaration of the state of emergency is in effect until Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Furthermore, Governor Edwards has scheduled a press conference for 10 a.m. on Saturday to discuss the flooding situation in a slew of parishes across the state.

"We are in constant contact with local officials and first responders, and assistance is already on the move to affected parishes," said Gov. Edwards. "The most important thing to remember is to obey road signs and to constantly monitor the news for updates to ensure everyone's safety. Every available resource will be used to assist citizens as this situation continues to unfold."

Unfortunately, the basement of Gov. Edwards' mansion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was also entirely flooded on Friday. Since the flooding, the governor's family has been relocated to another place until the issue is resolved. Incidentally, Gov. Edwards was in Colorado for a Governor's Association meeting and rushed back to Louisiana to assess the flooding situation in the state. The National Weather Service has reported that an additional three to five inches of rainfall could fall over the area in the next few days.

As reported by the National Weather Service, heavy rainfall began late on Thursday night and it has caused the overflowing of numerous rivers in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi. A man died on Friday after he slipped into a ditch in the city of Zachary. The victim was identified as William Mayfield, 68. The death of Mayfield was ruled by Dr. William Clark, the parish coroner, as a case of "accidental drowning."

State Fire Marshal H. Browning also confirmed that another male in his 50s was found inside a marooned Chevrolet pickup truck at about 7 p.m. on Friday. The pickup truck was found submerged on Louisiana Highway 10. His body was turned over to the parish coroner's office. His name and other details are not available yet. Residents have also reported another missing person, and at that time of writing this report, rescue crews are searching for a washed away vehicle.

Browning stated that the area around Louisiana Highway 10 is sparsely populated and that officials found the pickup only after successfully rescuing the driver of an 18-wheeler truck. Indicating how intense the rainfall has been, Browning said the following.

"The water was coming over the road for over a half-mile. It's about 1 to 2 feet of rushing water, enough to push a large truck off the road completely. The truck was found in a curve before where the 18-wheeler went off the road."

The search for the second vehicle is on and some people with a boat are also helping the State Fire department.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has been receiving requests for high-water vehicles, boats, and sandbags. In fact, the Tangipahoa Parish has asked for a huge amount of sandbags, alone. The rainfall has prompted the rescue of the residents from their homes in Tangipahoa Parish. The parish president, Robby Miller, said that authorities have rescued close to 72 people and seven pets already.

Evacuees have been sheltered in the town of Amite and the city of Hammond.

"They will be allowed to return home once the water starts to recede," said forecaster Krautmann. He also mentioned that an observer living near Livingston reported that 13.75 inches has been recorded since Friday morning.

Keith Townson, manager of Shopper Value Foods in Amite, who has lived in the area for 40 years commented on the historical rainfall.

"I've seen water in some places I have never seen before. And, it's still coming down."
[Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP Images]