BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — Torrential rain pounded Louisiana for a fourth day Friday, leaving roads impassable, submerging cars and forcing people from their homes overnight.
The Bossier City area across the Red River from Shreveport has taken the brunt of the storm that began saturating northern Louisiana late Tuesday. At least three people have died, and mandatory evacuations have been enforced by rescuers using large trucks able to negotiate the high waters.
At the Pecan Valley Estates mobile home park, Sam Cassidy and his wife were the last holdouts. The murky waters surrounded Cassidy’s home and his neighbors had already left. He said he would leave if the water started to get inside but he was worried about looters.
He said God might take it all with the flood but he wouldn’t allow anyone else to. Thursday morning, with waters creeping up his front steps, he stood in waist-deep water watching his neighbors evacuate. An alligator swam by. By night it looked like a “horror movie.”
“We were the only two here,” he said. “It was pitch black, the houses were empty. It’s been an adventure.”
Residents in two additional subdivisions in the region were ordered to leave Friday, while the Louisiana Downs racetrack was under a mandatory evacuation, said Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Davis. A flood warning was in effect for the Red Chute Bayou, where levees built to prevent water from overflowing were at risk.
The southeast of the state started to get battered by rain Thursday and Friday.
In Tangipahoa Parish, 200 people were evacuated from homes east and northeast of Hammond early Friday after 12 inches of rain fell overnight, said parish president Robby Miller.
Thaddeus Jackson, 37, said water was already entering his two-story apartment in Hammond when he arrived home from work at around 2:30 a.m. He tried to protect his furniture, then he and his wife and children went to bed.
“When I woke up this morning, the rescue people were banging on the door, telling us to get out,” said Jackson.
Further to the east in Washington Parish, swollen rivers and creeks have led to widespread flooding, prompting rescues from scores of homes.
Mike Haley, a chief deputy for the parish’s sheriff, said dozens of homes have been flooded. The Coast Guard even had to send a helicopter from New Orleans to rescue someone trapped on a roof.
There were no reports of serious injuries or deaths, said Haley, but he noted that the flooding was worse than what the parish saw during Hurricane Isaac in 2012.
The severe weather system that has dumped rain across the state has been feeding off of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, said Frank Revitte, from the National Weather Service in Slidell.
On Tuesday night and Wednesday, the system dumped 15-20 inches over north Louisiana before moving south where it dumped about 10-15 inches of rain Thursday and Friday in some areas — in just 3 to 4 hours — Rivette said.
The weather system is starting to move slowly to the northeast, he said, giving the state a chance to dry out. Southeast Louisiana will dry out faster than north Louisiana, where the ground is saturated, he said.
The rain will be slow to leave — additional showers are expected Saturday. But by Sunday, Rivette said, “We should see the sunshine and begin to dry out.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards traveled to northern Louisiana Friday to assess the situation after issuing a statewide declaration of emergency Thursday.
The Louisiana National Guard deployed roughly 400 people along with 30 to 35 high-water vehicles and 15 to 18 boats to assist in search-and-rescue operations in north Louisiana.
A section of Interstate 20 east of Bossier City remained closed and a portion of I-49 was closed south of Shreveport.
All of southeast Louisiana remained under a flash flood watch Friday as bands of heavy rain moved over the area.
The storms that have swamped Louisiana have also hammered other states in the region:
— In Mississippi, rain was still falling as rescuers plucked people from flash flooding and residents along Delta rivers sandbagged against rising waters. Some areas of the Delta region have received more than 10 inches of rain since Wednesday, with at least some rain expected to continue through Saturday.
— The National Weather Service predicted Friday that nearly 6 inches of rain could fall by early Sunday around Mobile, Alabama, where downtown streets often flood during tropical deluges. Water already is rising in the fishing communities and boatyards south of the city.
— In Memphis, Tenn. rescuers evacuated at least six people from a handful of homes in Shelby County that are surrounded by rising waters from the Loosahatchie River. The National Weather Service says 3 to 10 inches of rain has fallen in West Tennessee since late Tuesday and another 1-3 inches could fall over the weekend.
— One weather-related drowning was reported in both Oklahoma and Texas earlier this week.
McGill reported from Natalbany, Louisiana. Associated Press writers Bill Fuller in New Orleans and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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