BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — Torrential rains pounded northern Louisiana for fourth day Friday, trapping several hundred people in their homes, leaving scores of roads impassable and causing widespread flooding.
The Bossier City region near Shreveport has taken the brunt of the storm that began saturating Louisiana late Tuesday. At least three people have drowned, and mandatory evacuations have been enforced by rescuers using large trucks able to negotiate the high waters.
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.
In the southeast, high water rescues were under way in Tangipahoa Parish, and emergency shelters were being set up to house dislocated residents. Parish President Robby Miller said about 200 people were evacuated from their homes east and northeast of Hammond early Friday after 12 inches of rain fell overnight.
“We are getting calls from all over the parish of high water and homes been threatened,” Miller said. “About 60 parish roads are now blocked by high water and that number is growing.”
Meteorologist Patrick Omundson in Shreveport said rain continued to fall over portions of north-central Louisiana, bringing an addition inch to portions of Grant, LaSalle and Winn parishes.
A section of Interstate 20 east of Bossier City remained closed and a portion of I-49 was closed south of Shreveport. “Wallace Lake is overflowing, sending its water west to the interstate,” Omundson said.
Most of the heavy rain remains over the Monroe area in northeast Louisiana. C.S. Ross, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Shreveport, said 20-plus inches of rain has fallen in southeast Bossier City since Tuesday night.
If weather permits Friday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards planned to tour Shreveport and Bossier City and Monroe, the governor’s spokeswoman Shauna Sanford said. Edwards late Thursday issued a statewide declaration of emergency.
Michael Konnovich Jr., 45, his wife and two children have lived in the Bossier City subdivision of Golden Meadow for about 12 years. In that time, he said he’s never seen as much water as he’s seen in the past few days.
“Typically, it will come up and drain off,” he said. “But not this time. The water is just over my 5-foot chain link fence. I just don’t know where this water is coming from.”
Konnovich said the water has not entered his home yet. If the predicted overnight rain of between 3 and 5 inches falls, however, water could creep inside. Friends and neighbors began sandbagging their homes Thursday in an effort to ward off the rising water.
Edwards said he authorized Major Gen. Glenn Curtis, adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard, to deploy up to 750 guard members in flooded areas. Curtis said the Guard had 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.
All of southeast Louisiana remained under a flash flood watch Friday as bands of heavy rain move over the area.
National Weather Service forecaster Andrew Ansorge in Slidell said a line of heavy rain moved north over the New Orleans metro area Friday morning and more was expected.
Ansorge says the heavy rain will continue Friday and get lighter Saturday. “Sunday will be a much better day,” Ansorge said.
The storms that have swamped Louisiana are moving eastward toward Alabama, with weather officials saying flooding is possible around Mobile Bay.
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.
Forecasters posted a warning for rip currents, which can quickly pull swimmers out to deep water, and said waves could reach 7 feet in height — unusually large for the northern Gulf Coast. Beach erosion and flooding is also possible.
One weather-related drowning was reported in both Oklahoma and Texas earlier this week.
Fuller reported from New Orleans. Associated Press writers Chevel Johnson in New Orleans, Michael Kunzelman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.