Rescuers in Louisiana rescued more than 7,000 people and 500 pets after historic amounts of rain flooded the southeastern region. Four have been reported dead, state registrar Devin George reported to USA Today. The number of deaths increased when a man’s body was found on the Tangipahoa Parish riverbank.
As part of the rescue efforts, Louisiana State Police used helicopters to disburse food and water to motorists who had gotten stuck in the Baton Rouge area. Some areas were hit by over two feet of rain that began on Friday. By Sunday, the weather improved but the flooding continued. During Sunday’s news conference, Governor John Bel Edwards expressed his fears surrounding the disaster, USA Today reports.
“This is a serious event, ongoing. It’s not over. 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. We are asking everyone to be patient…the simple fact is we are breaking records.”
While Sunday’s weather was more merciful, residents were urged to stay home unless evacuations were ordered. Edwards warned, “Even a typical afternoon summer thunderstorm has the potential to cause flooding.”
Of the areas hit, Livingston Parish was among the worst. Citizens attempting to evacuate the area were deserted on roadways, according to officials. Even the populous school, Louisiana State University, announced that its main campus would be closed on Monday.
Update: LSU is closed Monday. All events are canceled. Standby for more information this afternoon. Continue to check text and emails.— LSU (@lsu) August 14, 2016
Both the Comite and Amite Rivers reached high levels and are expected to exceed the records by 5 feet, The Weather Channel states.
Watch the moment a woman is rescued from her sinking car during the Louisiana floods https://t.co/KBI7qVU1pV— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 14, 2016
Many are forced to stay in shelters and are without normal services. For instance, AT&T halted services for customers in Baton Rouge after equipment was damaged by the weather.
Fox News claims the state is taking measures to ensure the safety of people, including Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge who evacuated over 40 patients and is expected to evacuate another 15. Amtrak trains are also deterring from their normal services and busing customers from Jackson, Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana. Rescuers have saved hundreds of pets while conducting their searches. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said at least 100 pets have been rescued since Friday. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency also moved 56 people to a shelter because of flooded homes.
Over 1,700 rescue personnel were mobilized and almost 170 high-water vehicles were staged, according to the Louisiana National Guard. And, an additional 800 guardsmen are scheduled for deployment. The Coast Guard has also been called in to aid in rescue efforts. The team has also used helicopters to rescue residents from rooftops, cars, and trailers.
The Louisiana Transportation Department has closed 100 roads. Due to the conditions, Sheriff Ivy Woods of Jefferson Davis Parish enacted a 6 p.m. curfew so motorists don’t get stranded overnight.
As of Sunday night, President Barack Obama declared Louisiana a major disaster in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa, in an effort to provide the areas federal funding.
Edwards — who also declared a state of emergency — called the floods “unprecedented” and “historic.” Much like the hurricane disasters which struck the state, the National Guard has been called in.
Ya’ll keep Louisiana in your prayers, they were hit with a major flood. I hope my HBCU fam in Louisiana is okay ???????? pic.twitter.com/8qNKRfmL2I— The HBCURoundTable ™ (@HBCU_Roundtable) August 15, 2016
CNN reports Edwards states the people could have taken efforts of their own. “People that should have evacuated didn’t, so they are having to be evacuated,” he said.
Ray Cutrer — a survivor— told CNN, “Our guard was down. And then it was a matter of just watching the water continually rise.”
As of midnight on Friday, people have been storing furniture and other valuables in the attic and carrying other valuables — whatever they can — over the back property line while water continues to fill the roads.
Stay tuned for more updates on the State of Louisiana’s flood disasters.
[Photo by NyxoLyno Cangemi/U.S. Coast Guard/Getty Images]