BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 12 (UPI) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a statewide emergency Friday following heavy rains and severe flash flooding that have so far resulted in one death and widespread damage.
Severe weather soaked the Bayou State overnight, bringing more than a foot of rain to the region. Several areas were hit hard by the storm, particularly in the northeast.
Flash flooding prompted multiple warnings by forecasters as the heavy rain is expected to continue until at least Saturday morning. By Friday afternoon, Edwards had declared the statewide emergency — making it available for state and federal aid — and ordered that it remain in place until Sept. 10.
“We are in constant contact with local officials and first responders, and assistance is already on the move to affected parishes,” the governor said in a statement. “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.”
A 68-year-old man drowned in the town of Zachary on Friday, authorities said, as he tried to escape rising floodwaters at his home.
“Just watching TV, and then the water just started coming up,” the victim’s roommate told WAFB-TV. “We were walking out, and he slipped and fell. He went under the water.
“We tried to save him, but we couldn’t.”
In addition to Louisiana, southern Mississippi also bore the brunt of the drenching rains of the last 12 hours. Some areas were evacuated to higher ground, and many state offices were closed. Edwards’ office has also listed numerous shelters where affected residents can seek safety.
In Walker, trouble has been so severe that the weather produced a very shocking sight for residents there — unearthed caskets bobbing in floodwaters at a local cemetery.
The rising waters are also creating historic new levels. The Tickfaw River reached a record 13-foot flood stage. The Bogue Chitto River is expected to crest at nearly 20 feet, and levels of the Amite and Comite Rivers should surpass record levels set 33 years ago — when more than 5,000 homes were flooded after 50 straight hours of pouring rain.
Video: New Orleans Times-Picayune