Over the weekend, heavy rains across the southern United States caused severe flooding in Louisiana, putting tens of thousands of local residents in danger. Creeks and rivers near Baton Rouge overflowed, and water rushed into streets and homes faster than many people anticipated. Officials say over 20,000 residents have been rescued so far from the north and east parts of the cities, stretching west past Lafayette. So far, at least six people have been killed by the floodwaters.
Of those who have perished in the floods to date, three were motorists drowned when their cars were swept away after many major roadways were overtaken by water. The floods left many other drivers stranded, but state officials report that all surviving motorists were rescued from the roads by Sunday evening. The flooding has destroyed thousands of homes and displaced at least 10,000 local residents so far. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards requested an emergency declaration, which President Barack Obama granted on Sunday, allowing the state to tap into federal funds for continued recovery and relief efforts.
The storms that spurred the flooding have dispersed, but officials say that does not mean the worst is over. As tributaries and backwaters continue to fill, fed by already swollen rivers upstream, more flooding is expected. How severe or widespread the flooding will be is anyone’s guess. “The simple fact of the matter here is we’re breaking records,” the governor told reporters on Sunday. “And any time you break a record, the National Weather Service cannot tell you what you can expect in the way of the floodwaters: how wide they’re going to be and how deep they’re going to be.”
Although southern Louisiana caught the brunt of flooding from the weekend storms, the National Weather Service has a ‘flash flood threat’ warning in effect across the south and midwest, stretching from Texas to the Ohio River valley. That alert will continue through Wednesday, as more rains are expected across the region.