Three people were killed, one person is missing and thousands have been displaced as historic levels of flooding wreaked havoc across Louisiana over the weekend, officials said.
Emergency responders worked to rescue residents from danger on Sunday as water levels continued to rise, three days after they began rapidly rising following a significant amounts of rain.
Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency as thousands were forced from their homes including the governor himself. He and his family were made to leave the Governor’s Mansion when chest-high water filled the basement and the electricity was shut off, the Associated Press reported.
At least 7,000 people had been rescued so far and 5,050 people were staying in shelters due to flooding, taking cover in government and Red Cross shelters, Edwards said. Others are staying at private shelters, including those offered by churches.
More than 1,000 homes in East Baton Rouge Parish, more than 1,000 homes in Livingston Parish and hundreds more in other areas were damaged in the flooding that also saw the evacuation of nursing homes and the closing of highways.
Cars were stranded along Interstate 12, which was closed for miles. Motorists stuck on the road were forced to make do and many resorted to sharing whatever they had.
Alex Cobb of Baton Rouge, who had been stuck since about 11 a.m., told the AP that a produce truck about a mile up the road shared its stock with drivers.
“They opened up their truck and started giving out fruits and vegetables to people," she said. "People are surprisingly upbeat. I don't know how long that is going to last because it's getting kind of hot. We just want water."
Edwards urged residents to remain patient, even as the rains subside, saying real risk will remain even when the water doesn’t.
“Don't get out and sightsee," Edwards said.
Between six and 10 inches of rain fell on parts of Louisiana Friday and several more inches fell on Saturday, the National Weather Service reported. Some areas were hit even harder, including Baton Rouge, which saw 11 inches, while Livingston saw more than 17 inches.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for several counties in his state as well as the area was pounded with rain.