Gov. Edwards addresses flooding across south Louisiana

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 2:21 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards provided updates to the public on the heavy rains that have recently caused flooding problems in the southwestern and Capital areas of Louisiana.

Edwards said some parts of the Lake Charles area received up to 15 inches of rain in a span of eight to 10 hours, causing extensive flooding to streets, homes, and businesses. He added the heavy rains caused damage to some places that weren’t badly affected by hurricanes Laura or Delta.

According to the governor, East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes were the most heavily affected areas of southeast Louisiana, with upwards of 13 inches of rain in some parts, also causing widespread flooding.

Compared to 2016, he said there have been breaks in the rains this time and not a lot of rain up north to cause more water in rivers, canals, and other tributaries.

Unfortunately, more rain is expected through Thursday.

Edwards said four deaths were reported following the severe weather and are being investigated as storm-related. He confirmed there was a body recovered from a vehicle on the Bluebonnet Boulevard underpass and his death was flood-related. He added during a flash flood event, the worst place a person can be is in their vehicle. He urged people to stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary.

He stated there are 10 weather-related closures of major highways across the state, most notably I-10 is shut down in both directions between Siegen Lane and Highland Road due to the flooding. Traffic is being diverted to US 61 (Airline Hwy).

He also talked about search and rescue operations that have taken place. The numbers from the state agencies indicate Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents rescued 110 people and 15 pets from the Lake Charles area. The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal rescued an additional 78 people and five pets in southwest Louisiana. The Louisiana National Guard also rescued 19 people and two pets in the Lake Charles area.

The governor added many more than that were rescued by other agencies and volunteers. In the Baton Rouge area, deputy fire marshals officially rescued eight people. Earlier in the day, Mayor Sharon Weston Broom stated about 250 residents in East Baton Rouge Parish were rescued.

There is a shelter set up in the Lake Charles area that is housing 120 people and another at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport taking care of about 30 people.

There was a total of about 25,000 power outages across the state overnight but that number was down to around 10,000 by Tuesday afternoon. The governor reminded people about generator safety, as several deaths following last year’s hurricanes were attributed to generators.

Brigadier Gen. D. Keith Waddell with the Louisiana National Guard said there are 20 high-water vehicles and 10 boats in Calcasieu Parish, four high-water vehicles and four boats in Vermilion Parish, five high-water vehicles and two boats in East Baton Rouge Parish, and a quick reaction force in Belle Chasse with seven high-water vehicles. He added the hope is to get an additional 15 high-water vehicles to East Baton Rouge by Tuesday evening.

According to Waddell, there are currently 114 guardsmen assisting in the disaster and that number could go up to 250.

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