NEW ORLEANS (CN) — Six people died and more than 20,000 others were rescued from historic flooding across southern Louisiana as people braced Monday for more water.
The death toll included a grandmother who drowned while saving her grandson in Rapides Parish. According to KALB, the woman’s car was swept from a flooded road in Hineston, Louisiana.
The woman and child escaped the flooded car, but were swept into a nearby creek. Two women out for a walk heard screaming, and another bystander swam out to rescue the child from a tree limb he managed to grab onto.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Sunday that the federal government had declared a major disaster for Tangipahoa, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes, while six other parishes had flooding severe enough to open shelters (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties).
Edwards said more than 10,000 people had spent the night in shelters and 40,000 homes and businesses statewide were without power.
“This is a serious event,” Edwards said at a news conference Sunday. “It is ongoing. It is not over.”
The governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge flooded Saturday and had to be evacuated.
Several courthouses and public offices statewide were closed Friday and Monday, many of them were expected to be closed Tuesday as well. Courthouses in Baton Rouge, Ascension Parish, Acadia, Lafayette, Vermillion and Washington parishes were all closed, with at least the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, if not others, closed until further notice.
The flooding came after a slow moving storm over the weekend followed hammering rains that dumped up to 25 inches last week in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.
Though the sun came out over many areas by Monday morning, the threat of more flooding still loomed, with major rivers, such as the Amite, not expected to crest until later this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The excessive rains have sent at least six rivers to record levels, according to government forecasters. This included the Amite River, which exceeded its previous record by over six feet in Magnolia, and by over four feet in Denham Springs.
“The Weather Service tells us because the flooding is so far above what they’ve ever seen, they can’t really model or predict how wide the water is going to flow or how deep it’s going to get,” Gov. Edwards told CNN.
Edwards continued, “We are still in the response phase. We are still affecting search and rescue.”
More than 1,500 motorists were stranded by high water on the I-12 near Covington over the weekend. Many of them spent 24 hours in their cars waiting to be rescued, as in the meantime relief workers distributed water from helicopter. All of those stranded had been rescued by Sunday night, but many cars still remained on the highway.
Floodwaters reach the front steps of a home near Holden, La., after heavy rains inundated the region, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday that at least 7,000 people have been rescued so far. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Photo caption 2:
Members of the Louisiana Army National Guard rescue people from rising floodwater near Walker, La., after heavy rains inundated the region, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
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