BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 13 (UPI) — At least two people are dead and one person remains missing as heavy rains in Louisiana and Mississippi continue to cause floods that Louisiana Gov. Bel Edwards called “unprecedented.”
Edwards said 18 parishes surrounding Baton Rouge have declared states of emergency and three more are in the process of doing so. A statewide emergency declaration was also made as rains continued to pound southern and central portions of the state, causing flash floods along rivers and creeks. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant also declared a state of emergency for the southwest part of his state because of flooding there.
Officials have no frame of reference for how bad the flooding could get because Edwards said there is no similar weather event to compare it to.
“We have record levels of flooding along rivers and creeks, and because these are record floods, we don’t know how wide the waters are going to get in those areas,” he said. “This is unprecedented.”
He encouraged residents who have been advised to evacuate to do so because those ignoring the evacuation orders are taxing emergency responders who have been called out to make more than 1,000 rescue attempts using high water vehicles, boats and helicopters as people become trapped in their homes amid rising flood waters.
“If you are living in those areas and you’ve been advised to evacuate, you need to do that. You need to heed these warnings,” he said.
The storm, which is forecast to continue for the next 36 hours, has already had deadly consequences, officials said.
According to CNN, the body of an elderly man was recovered in Baton Rouge after he slipped into a ditch while being helped through floodwaters. A 68-year-old man in the town of Zachary also drowned while attempting to escape floodwaters in his home on Friday.
A father and son in Tangipahoa were also swept away by rushing water, Police Chief Darrell Martin said. The son was found, but his father remains missing.
Michael Martin, St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office director of operations, said all seven roads into the small town of Greensburg were underwater, leaving it largely cut off from all transportation except large National Guard vehicles.
The National Weather Service told the New Orleans Times-Picayune another four to eight inches were expected. The flash flood watch for southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi was extended until 7 a.m. Sunday.
“Our message remains there is still a long way to go,” meteorologist Alek Krautmann said. “We’re concerned about the rain continuing in the greater Baton Rouge area this evening [Friday], another round of overnight heavy rain possible later tonight, especially in south central Louisiana, and of course, the rapidly rising rivers.”
Livingston Parish President Layton Rick urged residents of the Amite River corridor to evacuate immediately as the river continued to rise at a rapid rate.
Heavy rains are expected to continue through the weekend before approaching normal summer conditions by Monday.