Flood emergency declared in Louisiana; 2 killed as storms slam Southeast

Posted at 8:29 AM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 08:29:50-05

Despite being inundated with heavy rains that killed two, flooded homes and wrecked highways on Wednesday, it looks like some of the Southeast is in for another very wet day.

Flash flood watches will continue to be in effect from east Texas through Louisiana and up into the Mississippi River Valley — including Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and southern Illinois.

Some bayous and creeks near Shreveport are expected to crest at record levels not seen since 1991, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.

State offices in 17 Louisiana parishes are closed Thursday, according to CNN affiliates KTAL and KMSS. The northwest part of the state could see another eight to 10 inches on top of the drenching it received Wednesday (some isolated locations got more than 14 inches.)

And even if rains Thursday turn out to be light, residents may still be in for a soggy weekend.

The current system, which has caused this wet weather pattern, is expected to remain over the lower Mississippi River Valley over the weekend, according to Guy.

That means the region is at risk for further flooding until Monday.

Wednesday’s devastation

At least two people have been killed in storms across the region, officials said. In Texas, a man was killed after his kayak capsized in Dickinson Bayou, police said. In Louisiana, a driver died when his vehicle was swept off the road in flood waters in Bienville Parish, a spokesman for the state’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency in 16 parishes in the northern part of the state and the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency for several parishes.

Officials warned that flood waters could rise above a levy and place thousands of homes in jeopardy.

After more than 14 inches of rain fell in Bossier Parish, officials there said they had closed at least 100 roads and had issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents of 3,500 homes that could be at risk if flood waters keep rising.

The levee protecting parts of Bossier was “stressed” and overtopped in some areas, but so far it has not failed, CNN affiliate KTBS reported. Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said Wednesday that flood waters could rise above the Guideline Levy.

“We’ll be out there in full force the rest of the evening and night, as long as it takes,” Whittington said. “We encourage everyone to get prepared, and try and evacuate. … You do need to move out.”

The flooding, Whittington said, is a “dangerous situation.”

“We’ve had folks who had to be rescued off rooftops, people rescued from cars, clinging to trees,” sheriff’s spokesman Bill Davis said.

The sheriff’s office posted video showing rushing water, pickups stranded in flood water and people piling sandbags to protect their homes.

Cathy Little of Shreveport said she’s seen flooding there before but never like this.

She posted videos of flooding in the area on Instagram. One showed a neighbor’s home surrounded by water.

Parts of Arkansas and Texas have endured heavy rainfall.

More than 10 inches of rain have fall in Searcy, Arkansas, since Monday. Longview, Texas, has seen more than 8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters warned people to stay off the roads in areas facing heavy rains.

“Most flood deaths occur in vehicles,” the National Weather Service said.

Flooding is the leading weather-related cause of death over the last 30 years, according to CNN meteorologists Jennifer Gray and Monica Garrett.

The severe storm risk will remain on Thursday, with cities such as New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, possibly feeling the impact.