Heavy Flooding Inundates Southeast Louisiana Three people are confirmed dead and more than 7,000 have been rescued in historic flooding in Louisiana. Amy Wold of The Advocate has an update.

Heavy Flooding Inundates Southeast Louisiana

Heavy Flooding Inundates Southeast Louisiana

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Three people are confirmed dead and more than 7,000 have been rescued in historic flooding in Louisiana. Amy Wold of The Advocate has an update.

ALLISON AUBREY, HOST:

Heavy flooding is inundating southeast Louisiana. Three people are confirmed dead and more than 7,000 others have been rescued, some from second-story balconies and windows and some from trees. In a minute, we'll talk to one of those evacuees in Baton Rouge, which is one of the hardest-hit areas. Floodwaters are topping more than 20 feet in some areas, and cell service is down for many. Earlier I spoke with Amy Wold. She's the environmental reporter for The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge. I started by asking her to describe the scene.

AMY WOLD: It has been historic. We've seen rain levels, first of all, started Thursday and Friday that we had not seen in a long, long time. And now we are seeing river levels that are breaking records. Most people around here remember the flood of 1983. A lot of places got flooded in East Baton Rouge Parish. This is breaking all of those by two or three feet.

AUBREY: There have been three reported deaths, as we just said. One woman who died was reportedly riding in a car with her husband and his mother when the floodwaters swept the car away. And then rescuers found two others clinging to a tree on Saturday. Do you know if there are still other people awaiting rescue?

WOLD: There are. The search and rescue is continuing now through large parts of the parish. That's also going on in our neighbor, Livingston Parish.

AUBREY: And what's the most dramatic thing you have seen? I mean, we've heard reports of people going out in their own boats to help with the rescue efforts.

WOLD: Absolutely. We're here in south Louisiana, so very many of us have boats. So a lot of them just hitched up and are out at wherever they can launch to go look for people to help.

AUBREY: How are people staying in touch? I've heard that cell phone services is out.

WOLD: That is really difficult. AT&T went out this morning at some point. So it's been very difficult to get in touch with other people. If people have Wi-Fi, they can call that way. But yeah, it's put a big strain on a lot of people. People are having problems connecting with their family members, so if you haven't heard from someone for a while there's just really no way to get in touch with them.

AUBREY: The governor, John Bel Edwards, has declared a state of emergency there in Louisiana. What is expected over the next 24 to 36 hours? Could the flooding actually get worse in some places?

WOLD: Absolutely. We have a river - the Amite River has crested in some areas, but the bulge of the water is still moving downstream before it hits eventually Lake Pontchartrain. And that is going to end up causing localized flooding all the way down, so a lot of people haven't seen the worst of it yet.

AUBREY: What's going to happen next week? For instance, are schools going to be able to open back up on Monday?

WOLD: LSU has already said that they're closed. I would assume many, many local school districts are going to close. We haven't gotten those announcements yet, but I'm assuming most of those will come in this afternoon.

AUBREY: Is this the worst you've ever seen in Baton Rouge?

WOLD: I've been here for 16 years and yes, this is the worst I've ever seen.

AUBREY: And how are the residents handling all this? It seems like everyone's pitching in to help each other out.

WOLD: Yeah. We've been through a lot of hurricanes, a lot of floods, and people here really do have a tendency to pull together.

AUBREY: That was Amy Wold, a reporter at The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La. Thanks so much for joining us.

WOLD: Thank you.

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PHOTOS: Dramatic Rescues Underway As Louisiana Floodwaters Reach 'Historic' Levels

In this aerial photo a boat motors between flooded homes on Saturday after heavy rains in the region in Hammond, La. Max Becherer/AP hide caption

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Max Becherer/AP

In this aerial photo a boat motors between flooded homes on Saturday after heavy rains in the region in Hammond, La.

Max Becherer/AP

Rescue efforts are underway in Southeast Louisiana as the state is drenched and battered by what the governor has called an "unprecedented and historic flooding event." He has declared a state of emergency, and three people have been killed by the floods.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters that more than 1,000 people have been rescued so far. "Not just from their homes but from their vehicles," he said, and "some people, not just from their vehicles, they've been clinging to trees and other things like this in swift-moving floodwaters."

A member of the St. George Fire Department assists residents as they wade through floodwaters from heavy rains in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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Gerald Herbert/AP

The National Guard has been deployed to assist with the rescue efforts, as WWNO's Eve Troeh reported to our Newscast unit. "The dramatic images are all too familiar in Louisiana — water up to the eaves of homes, people stranded on rooftops, some lifted to safety by helicopter rescue teams," she said.

One of those rescues was caught in an intense video released by The Associated Press. A rescue team steers their boat toward a red car that is almost completely submerged in the green-brown water.

Residents evacuate with food in ice chests in Hammond, La., on Saturday. Max Becherer/AP hide caption

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Max Becherer/AP

The woman can be heard inside the car. "Oh, my God, I'm drowning," she said, as the rescue workers try to break in through a window. Rescuer David Phung then leaps into the water and rips open the cloth top of the convertible, pulling the woman through the water and onto the surface.

Immediately, she says: "Get my dog!" The car has at this point completely disappeared under the water. Tense seconds pass. Then, Phung is able to grasp the terrified animal and drag him out of the flooded car.

Watch it here:

YouTube

More rain is expected in the flooded Gulf Coast in what Edwards described as a "slow-moving, low-pressure system."

Army National Guard vehicles drive on flooded U.S. Route 190 in Robert, La., on Saturday. Max Becherer/AP hide caption

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Max Becherer/AP

"We have record levels of flooding along rivers and creeks. And because these are record floods, we don't know how wide the water is going to get in those areas," he said. "This is unprecedented, so we don't have records that we can go back and see who all's going to be impacted."

Louisiana Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson said authorities are preparing for more rain, as Troeh reported.

"We are concerned and are monitoring the weather conditions as this element moves westward, and we've got folks deployed where we're using every barricade and every high-water sign there is to notify the public and prepare them," Wilson said.

More than 100 roads are closed and "at least one major highway has been submerged," Troeh said, adding that "river basins across the area continue to fill with water."

And with heavy rain projected in parts of Mississippi as the storm heads north, Gov. Phil Bryant has declared a state of emergency in at least four counties.