BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — A thousand people were forced to leave their homes early Thursday as a second round of unusually heavy rain hit an already inundated northern Louisiana. The southern part of the state was bracing for heavy rain later in the day.
Sixteen Louisiana parishes have declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was sent in to help.
In Bossier City — across the Red River from Shreveport — some 3,500 homes were under a mandatory evacuation as a precaution because a bayou was approaching the top of its levee. National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Hansford said Thursday morning that the bayou may top the levee or be breached.
“A weather spotter just north of Monroe reported 18.1 inches of rain since Tuesday night,” Hansford said.
Dozens of people were at a Red Cross shelter at the Bossier Civic Center in northwest Louisiana.
“About 50 people are in the shelter now and more are on the way from the area south of Bossier City, where several subdivisions were cut off by high water,” shelter manager Colleen Morgan said.
“The Red Cross is providing food, a place to sleep and blankets for those at the center,” Morgan said.
Lt. Bill Davis of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office said the road leading to an area just south of Bossier City is block by water in both directions. The National Guard and sheriff’s deputies are using high-water vehicles to bring out about 1,000 people Thursday morning.
“Once they reach safety, buses will take them to the civil center,” Davis said.
State police report several sections of Interstate 20 were closed from Bossier City to near Gibsland in north central Louisiana.
Rain also pummeled parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas.
In southern Arkansas, heavy rainfall has prompted the closure of some schools and roads, and forecasters say the deluge will continue there for the rest of the week. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service say officials have reported water rescues and evacuations near Dermott, Arkansas as water rises in low-lying areas.
More than 14 inches of rain had fallen as of Thursday morning in Chicot and Ashley counties in the southeast corner of Arkansas. Meteorologist Ed Tarver says the service issued an extreme flood threat for the counties because up to five more inches could be coming today.
Officials say schools are shutting down early and roads are closed in parts of West Tennessee due to flooding caused by heavy rain.
One weather-related drowning was reported in both Oklahoma and Texas earlier this week. In Louisiana, authorities said a man died and a woman was being treated for injuries after their car was swept off a flooded Louisiana road Wednesday in Bienville Parish and into a creek.
Nearly a foot of rain fell Tuesday night into Wednesday in Louisiana, prompting scores of rescues.
Air Force Tech Sgt. Drew Scott and another military friend brought in a boat Wednesday to help evacuate up to 200 mobile homes in the Pecan Valley Estates community in Bossier Parish. Scott said he had gone in his truck earlier Wednesday to pick up his in-laws but couldn’t get into the park.
“Water, coming up from the Flat River, was waist deep or higher and going into the houses. There were lots of cars flooded out. At the deepest point, I’d say, it was up to my chest and I’m 6 feet,” he said.
Southeast Louisiana is expected to get slammed by heavy rain and the possibility of severe storms starting Thursday evening.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Phil Grigsby in Slidell said the first line of heavy rain will contain severe weather in the form of high winds and a possible isolated tornado. Some areas could get up to 14 inches of rain, he said.