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Four dead, 20,000 rescued from Louisiana flooding

Luke Skywalker

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National Guard soldiers and other officials in boats and helicopters plucked more than 1,000 people from their homes and cars as "unprecedented, historic" flooding swamped Louisiana, the governor said Saturday. (Aug. 13) AP

Volunteers pull a boat with a woman and young child as they evacuate from their homes on Aug. 13, 2016, in Baton Rouge. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says more than 1,000 people in south Louisiana have been rescued from homes, vehicles and even clinging to trees as a slow-moving storm hammers the state with flooding.(Photo: John Oubre/The Advocate via AP)

MONROE, La.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>— Rescue efforts intensified Sunday as historic rain that paralyzed much of southeastern Louisiana eased, while<span style="color: Red;">*</span>floodwaters continued to bring havoc to the battered region.
State Police helicopters<span style="color: Red;">*</span>delivered food and water to hundreds of motorists stuck for more than 24 hours in flooding<span style="color: Red;">*</span>near Baton Rouge.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said late Sunday that more than 10,000 people were in shelters and more than 20,000 people were rescued across south Louisiana. The<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Baton<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Rouge<span style="color: Red;">*</span>River Center, a major events location in the capital city's downtown, was to be opened Sunday as a shelter to handle the large numbers of evacuees.
Four people have been reported dead, said Devin George, the state registrar for vital records. The death toll rose Sunday when a man's body was found washed up on a riverbank in Tangipahoa Parish.
Parts of the area have been blasted by up to 25 inches of rain since Friday. The weather improved Sunday, but Edwards warned that flooding issues will continue for days.
"This is a serious event, ongoing," Edwards said<span style="color: Red;">*</span>at a Sunday news conference. "It's not over."
The Amite and Comite rivers were among those hit with record flooding.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Jeff Gaschel, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said some areas of the Amite River won't crest until Monday. He said the area had similar rainfall amounts in 2001, but over a longer period of time.
The weather was improving, with forecasts calling only for occasional pop-up storms that are common in Louisiana this time of year, he said.
Rescue in Youngsville as hundreds flee flooded homes

"We are not in control as far as how fast these floodwaters will recede,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>and in fact they are still going up in some places," Edwards said. He urged residents not to venture out because the sun did.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>"We are asking everyone to be patient," he said.
Edwards, who was forced to flee the governor's mansion with his family due to flooding,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>said he sought a federal disaster declaration to expedite assistance to families and businesses.
"The simple fact is we are breaking records," Edwards said.
East Baton Rouge,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Helena parishes were<span style="color: Red;">*</span>officially declared federal<span style="color: Red;">*</span>disaster areas late Sunday, Edwards' office said.
No-name ‘monsoon depression’ not over yet

"I fully expect that more parishes will be added to the declaration on a rolling basis,” he said in a statement.
Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge said it was transferring about 40 patients, most critically ill, to<span style="color: Red;">*</span>other Ochsner facilities as a precautionary measure "to ensure ongoing continuity of care."
Some motorists were stranded for more than 24 hours.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Boats were unable to provide rescues due to the sporadic areas of dry land, and state troopers were on the ground to aid those<span style="color: Red;">*</span>stranded, said<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Col. Michael Edmonson, the state police superintendent.
Why it's flooding, why the river's flowing upstream

Edmonson said troopers were rescuing those with medical conditions first, something Dugas confirmed. "We saw a couple of people who were ill taken away," she said.
"We have to address life and death situations first before quality of life," Edmonson said Sunday.
Dominique Dugas<span style="color: Red;">*</span>and her family of Lafayette, La.,<span style="color: Red;">*</span>were<span style="color: Red;">*</span>rescued<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Sunday — her 29th birthday. She said they were heading to a funeral in Slidell on Saturday morning<span style="color: Red;">*</span>when they<span style="color: Red;">*</span>became stranded on I-12.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Dugas said in a phone interview with USA TODAY NETWORK<span style="color: Red;">*</span>that her<span style="color: Red;">*</span>family walked to a convenience store and was shuttled by school bus<span style="color: Red;">*</span>to a shelter.
"We saw the helicopters landing just as we got on the bus," she said.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>"It wasn't as bad a birthday as you might think. I<span style="color: Red;">*</span>had my family, and we were able to help some people."
At 3 p.m. Sunday, I-12 Northbound was finally opened after<span style="color: Red;">*</span>28 hours. Drivers said they helped each other out and shared food during the ordeal<span style="color: Red;">*</span>—<span style="color: Red;">*</span>one driver said he had "a power unit and a double bunk, so I took in six infants and their mothers so they could take care of their babies and stay cool."
About 1,700 National Guard troops were mobilized, with more on the way. State Transportation<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Secretary Shawn Wilson said more than 200 roads are closed. More than 5,000 people spent Saturday night in Red Cross shelters, some on floors because of a shortage of cots.
State government offices in 27 southern Louisiana parishes will be closed Monday, State Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said.
The Coast Guard said it had rescued numerous people from from rooftops, automobiles and trailers.
Parts of Mississippi also felt the impact of heavy rains and flooding, and<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for several counties.<span style="color: Red;">*</span>In Crosby, Miss., more than 50 people flooded out of a neighborhood will be housed Natchez shelter until<span style="color: Red;">*</span>at least Monday.
Contributing:<span style="color: Red;">*</span>WWL-TV, New Orleans, and The Associated Press;<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Bacon reported from McLean, Va.
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