USA – Record Floods in Louisiana Leave at Least 3 Dead

Major flooding in Louisiana has left at least three people dead and thousands rescued. Some areas recorded over 17 inches (430 mm) of rain on 12 August. Rivers have reached record levels at at least 5 locations over the last 2 days. Severe weather is also affecting neighbouring states of Alabama and Mississippi.

State of Emergency in Louisiana and Mississippi

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for the entire state on Friday, 12 August in response to the severe weather.

“We are in constant contact with local officials and first responders, and assistance is already on the move to affected parishes,” said Governor. Edwards. “The most important thing to remember is to obey road signs and to constantly monitor the news for updates to ensure everyone’s safety. Every available resource will be used to assist citizens as this situation continues to unfold.”

Yesterday, Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, declared a state of emergency for Adams, Amite, Pike, Wilkinson counties and other areas affected by the floods.

Affected Areas in Louisiana

According to a statement by the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, as of 12 August, flooding had affected the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Livingston, St. Helena, St. James, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington, Lafayette, St. Martin and West Baton Rouge.

Twenty-four shelters have been set up to house those evacuated from the homes.

In a press conference of 13 August, Governor Edwards described the flooding as a “truly historic situation” saying there have been record levels of flooding along rivers and creeks. He said the situation is unprecedented and there is no way of knowing just how far the flood waters can reach.

In early March, a slow moving storm dumped massive amounts of rain on parts of Louisiana and eastern Texas from Tuesday 08 March, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency for 16 parishes

On Saturday, Governor Edwards said that, although areas affected by flooding this time around are smaller than previous flood events, the intensity of the rain means that the flooding is more severe. He urged people to heed any evacuation orders.

Floods in Livingston parish, Louisiana, August 2016. Photo; Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office
Floods in Livingston parish, Louisiana, August 2016. Photo; Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office

Search and Rescue Operations

The National Guard and emergency teams have worked throughout the disaster to carry out evacuations and rescue those stranded in their homes or cars.

Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office reported that thousands have been rescued in the parish. Via Social Media late on 13 August, Sheriff Jason Ard said there are “thousands more to get to. Some rescues we don’t even know about because it’s neighbor helping neighbor here. It’s been tough. It’s been challenging.”

Flood rescues in Livingston, Louisiana, August 2016. Photo; Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office
Flood rescues in Livingston, Louisiana, August 2016. Photo; Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office

The Louisiana National Guard said yesterday that it has rescued nearly 500 people and 61 pets during search and rescue operations due to heavy flash flooding in seven different parishes, including 15 rescues by air, during the last 24 hours.

More than 1,000 National Guard personnel are mobilized and nearly 170 high-water vehicles tasked or staged to assist local, parish and state emergency officials with heavy flash flooding in St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Lafayette, Iberia, West Feliciana, East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

At least 3 deaths have been reported as a result of the flooding: one in Baker, East Baton Rouge Parish, and two in separate incidents in St. Helena Parish. Two of the victims are thought to have been in vehicles that were swept away by flood waters.

Rainfall

The heavy rainfall started to fall on Friday, 12 August, when a slow moving low pressure system dumped high levels of rain in a relatively small area.

NWS New Orleans reported that the Livingston Cooperative Weather Observer recorded 17.09 inches (434 mm) of rain between midnight and 15.00 on 12 August. Most of the 17 inches of rain fell during the morning of 12 August.

According to other NWS New Orleans figures, Baton Rouge recorded 11.79 inches (299 mm) of rain in 24 hours to 07.00, 13 August, New Iberia 11.33 inches (283 mm) and Lafayette 7.96 inches (202 mm).

Image: NWS New Orlenas
Initial estimated rainfall levels in Louisiana for 12 August, 2016. Image: NWS New Orlenas

The area of low pressure is expected to move westward over the coming hours.

Rivers

According to NWS figures, several rivers in Louisiana have reached record levels over the past 2 days, including:

  • Tickfaw River at Holden
  • Tickfaw River at Liverpool
  • Amite River at Denham Springs
  • Amite River at Magnolia
  • Comite River at Joor Road

Further Rain and Flooding Expected

Yesterday, Governor Edwards said this is an ongoing event and the rain continues to fall.

“This event is not over, there is a continued threat. Road conditions remain dangerous.”

NWS issued further flash flood warnings for wide areas in the south of the state late on Saturday.

Image: NWS New Orleans
Image: NWS New Orleans

In his press conference, the governor said that officials expect the rain and flooding to move west and the reach the state line with Texas.

Flood summary

Last updated: August 19, 2016
Event
Louisiana, USA, August 2016
Date
August 12, 2016
Type
Flash flood, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall
A slow moving low pressure system dumped high levels of rain in a relatively small area in southern Louisiana from 12 August 2016.

Locations

A - Ascension
B - East Baton Rouge
C - East Feliciana
D - Iberia
E - Iberville
F - Livingston
G - St. Helena
H - St. James
I - St. Tammany
J - Tangipahoa
K - Washington
L - Lafayette
M - St. Martin
N - West Baton Rouge

Magnitude

Rainfall level
434 mm in 24 hours
Livingston - August 12 to August 13, 2016
Rainfall level
299 mm in 24 hours
Baton Rouge - August 12 to August 13, 2016
Rainfall level
283 mm in 24 hours
New Iberia - August 12 to August 13, 2016
Rainfall level
202 mm in 24 hours
Lafayette - August 12 to August 13, 2016

Damages

Fatalities
13 people
August 12 to August 16, 2016
East Baton Rouge Parish – 5 Tangipahoa Parish – 3 St. Helena Parish – 2 Livingston Parish - 2 Rapides Parish - 1