Weather

The Latest: Floodwaters rise in southwest Louisiana homes

Posted August 28

— The Latest on Harvey's effects in Louisiana (all times local):

9:40 p.m.

Houses in southwest Louisiana's largest city are beginning to flood as rains from Tropical Storm Harvey continue.

Christina Wells said floodwater began to enter her house about 7 p.m. Monday. The 25-year-old says water is up to chest deep in parts of her neighborhood in southern Lake Charles.

People in elevated pickup trucks and at least one man with a boat were trying to reach houses in the subdivision to bring other people out.

Wells and her children were evacuated to a shopping center on higher ground nearby.

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6:30 p.m.

Forecasters and emergency officials say southwest Louisiana has avoided serious damage so far from Harvey, but say any more concentrated rain could lead to widespread flooding.

"We just can't take any more," Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said Monday evening.

Emergency Preparedness Director Dick Gremillion says no homes have yet been reported flooded. But Mancuso is urging residents to leave flood-prone areas now, saying his department would rather help people leave before waters encroach.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Roger Erickson says that if a concentrated rain band forms, any area of southwest Louisiana could see an additional 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 centimeters) of rain.

Heavy rains inland later in the week could also lead to floodgates being opened on the Toledo Bend Reservoir, causing flooding along the Sabine River.

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6 p.m.

Louisiana volunteers with boats who want to help with rescues in Texas are urged to call Houston police or Texas Task Force 1 in College Station before heading west.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says it's been getting calls from boaters who want to help, but it's not the coordinating agency.

Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Ed Pratt said in a news release Monday that the number for Houston Police is 713-881-3100. For the task force coordinating search and rescue efforts in College Station, Texas, call 972-841-2105 or e-mail TTF1@soc.texas.gov.

He says the department's Enforcement Division has sent 40 agents with 40 trucks and 40 vessels to the Houston area to help with search and rescue. Pratt says all of Louisiana's agents remain on alert and will be dispatched to the Houston area as requested.

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5:30 p.m.

A university and a medical school in New Orleans have canceled Tuesday classes because of Tropical Storm Harvey.

LSU Health New Orleans says its downtown medical and dental campuses have canceled classes, and will reschedule appointments at campus clinics. A news release says it's doing so "out of an abundance of caution due to the flooding threat posed by Tropical Storm Harvey coupled with the city's diminished pumping capacity."

University of New Orleans spokesman Adam Norris says the school canceled classes Monday afternoon and Tuesday, based on Mayor Mitch Landrieu's statements at a news conference Monday.

The mayor said a recently repaired drainage pump failed Monday during heavy rain related to the storm, and some streets flooded during heavy rain Monday.

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4:20 p.m.

A National Weather Service meteorologist says heavy rains are expected to continue for areas already battered by Harvey.

Donald Jones, who works in the weather service office that covers southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana says, "We're expecting a mess and we're expecting it to continue."

He says both areas could get 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 centimeters) more rain through Wednesday.

Jones says several bands of rain are continuing to "dump copious amounts of rain on the areas that need it the least."

In southeast Louisiana, Christopher Bannan says 3 to 6 inches (about 7-15 centimeters) are possible through Tuesday, with 5 to 10 inches (about 12-25 centimeters) through Thursday with possibly higher amounts in some spots should the storm cells stall over an area.

Jones is in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Bannan in Slidell, a New Orleans suburb.

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4:15 p.m.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says a recently repaired pump that is part of the city's intricate drainage system failed Monday during Harvey's heavy rains.

Landrieu says most pumps were working, and the city is continuing with efforts to improve the pumping system.

But Monday's pump failure underscores the possible flood threat to the city as Harvey continues to dump rain across the region. Some streets flooded Monday as a rain band dumped between 2 and 4 inches (5-10 centimeters) of rain. But there were no immediate reports of buildings flooding.

Earlier this month, heavy rains caused widespread flooding in New Orleans and revealed that the city's pump and drainage system wasn't operating at full capacity.

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2:50 p.m.

The mayor of Lake Charles says floodwaters from Harvey's heavy rains have damaged a few homes in the southwest Louisiana city.

Mayor Nic Hunter says fewer than a dozen Lake Charles homes had been damaged as of Monday afternoon, but the number is likely to rise as torrential rains continue to batter the region this week.

Hunter says roughly 35 to 40 people were staying at a shelter opened by the city. Some of them had been displaced from flooded homes.

Kent Kuyper, a Nation Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, said about 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 centimeters) of rain was expected to fall Monday in southwest Louisiana.

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1:10 p.m.

Louisiana's governor says potential flooding from Harvey's torrential rains poses a "dangerous situation," but the state hasn't received any reports yet of flood-damaged homes.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a press briefing Monday that he expects the potential for flood damage to increase as bands of rain continue to lash the southwestern part of the state.

The governor said Louisiana has offered to take in evacuees from Texas and to offer them shelter.

Edwards said the Louisiana National Guard has staged high-water vehicles and boats but so far hasn't had to deploy any on search and rescue missions in southwest Louisiana.

The governor said about 20 people, including eight from Texas, spent the night in a shelter in Rapides Parish.

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1 p.m.

Bands of sometimes-heavy rain from Tropical Storm Harvey have prompted a flash flood watch for all of southeast Louisiana — reaching into southwest Mississippi.

The watch issued Monday morning is expected to last through Thursday.

Harvey has caused catastrophic flooding in southeast Texas. And southwest Louisiana, where parts of some low-lying parishes were evacuated last week, is under a flash flood warning as heavy rain from the storm continues.

The heavy rains have New Orleans on edge.

Flash floods in sections of the city early this month during a heavy rain caught officials by surprise. They also revealed problems with the city's drainage pump system. Repairs and improvements are underway. But officials acknowledge that the system is still not operating at full capacity.

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11:45 a.m.

New Orleans residents arrived at fire stations across the city Monday to get sandbags for their homes as outer bands of heavy rain from Harvey began heading east from Houston.

The city's pump and drainage system is still not working at full capacity. Emotions are running high for many, especially those whose homes flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Ray Gratia on Monday was picking up sandbags for his New Orleans home, which flooded during Katrina. He said Harvey's devastation in Texas and its turn toward Louisiana evokes strong emotions.

Harvey, the more fearsome hurricane to hit the U.S. in more than a decade, came ashore late Friday about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 storm. It has caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

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10 a.m.

An emergency response official in southwest Louisiana says the threat of flooding from Harvey's torrential rains could be "new ground for us."

Danny Lavergne, director of Cameron Parish's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said about 30 roads in the parish were covered with water but remained passable Monday morning. But he added that it was "early in the game," with more heavy rain in the forecast.

Cameron Parish has roughly 6,800 residents living in the coastal community, which was devastated by storm surge from Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.

This time, Lavergne says the greatest threat is the sheer volume of rainwater.

Kent Kuyper, a Nation Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, said about 5 to 10 inches (12 to 25 centimeters) of rain was expected to fall Monday in southwest Louisiana.

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8:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump has issued a federal emergency declaration for Louisiana as Harvey dumps heavy bands of rain on the state.

Trump's emergency declaration on Monday initially covers five parishes in southwest Louisiana: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion.

A White House statement says the action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts. The declaration also authorizes the federal government to cover 75 percent of costs of certain emergency protective measures.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards requested the declaration in a letter to the White House on Sunday.

Edwards said life-saving efforts such as search and rescue and shelters will be needed, especially in southwest Louisiana where forecasters say 10 to 20 inches (25-50 centimeters) of rain could fall.

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6:30 a.m.

Tornado and flash flood watches covered parts of southwest Louisiana as Harvey began dropping torrential rains on Louisiana.

The National Weather Service radar for the Lake Charles area early Monday was lit up in orange and red where heavy rains from one of Harvey's outer bands streamed from the Gulf of Mexico onto the Louisiana coast.

The storm was centered on Matagorda Bay off the Texas coast and moving slowly southeast.

Forecasters said early Monday that a "conveyer belt" of moisture is expected to drop another 10 to 15 inches (12 to 25 centimeters) of rain expected across southeast Louisiana. They said that up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of additional rain is expected across central and south central Louisiana through Thursday afternoon.

Tornadoes could also threaten southwest Louisiana, which was under a tornado watch Monday.

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