The Latest: 7th flood-related death confirmed


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on flooding in the Deep South (all times local):

11:30 p.m.

Authorities have confirmed a seventh flood-related death in Louisiana.

The East Baton Rouge Parish coroner says the victim was a man believed to be in his 50s.

The cause of death was accidental drowning.

The body was pulled from floodwaters in front of the Greenwell Springs Library.

The victim was not immediately identified.

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8:10 p.m.

A body has been pulled from floodwaters in Baton Rouge, apparently raising the death toll to seven.

Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, confirms a volunteer patrolling in his boat Monday found the victim in front of the Greenwell Springs Library.

Hicks says sheriff’s units on boats in the area responded and confirmed the discovery. She says the manner of death and identification will come from the coroner’s office.

State officials who had been tracking storm-related deaths could not immediately confirm the death was tied to the flooding.

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6:15 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says the widespread flooding across south Louisiana has “presented tremendous challenges,” but he’s proud of the state’s response.

As he visited hard-hit areas in the Lafayette region of south central Louisiana, Edwards said Monday that he’s impressed how Louisiana residents have been working together and “taking care of their own.”

The governor urged people to remain patient and wait to enter flood-damaged areas only after roadways are safe to travel on. He also stressed that Louisiana is still “saving lives” and in “the response phase” of the flooding disaster.

Edwards said: “We’re doing search and rescue right now in many parishes. As the floodwaters move south and the rivers are cresting further and further south, you have additional areas that are being brought into play.”

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5:45 p.m.

Authorities in Ascension Parish, south of Baton Rouge, say they’re preparing for the worst as rising waterways begin to dump their contents and flood thousands of homes in the process.

Planning and Intel Officer Meredith Conger says the area is experiencing massive backwater flooding since waters from the Amite River and others in the area don’t have anywhere to go.

She says the towns of Galvez, St. Amant and Prairieville have been swamped by floods and they’re expecting Sorrento to be impacted over the next six to eight hours.

So far, she says, they’re expecting more than 15,000 addresses in the parish to be affected by the flooding once assessments begin.

Parts of the parish are currently under a voluntary evacuation order.

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2:55 p.m.

More than 11,000 people remain in shelters after flooding forced rescues and evacuations in southern Louisiana.

The state Department of Children and Family Services said more people continued to arrive at shelters Monday as new parts of Baton Rouge, its suburbs and other areas took on water draining from other hard-hit neighborhoods.

A makeshift shelter set up at a large film studio complex in East Baton Rouge Parish was among the largest, estimated to hold 2,000-plus evacuees.

Over the weekend and into Monday, residents whose homes were high and dry sought to help out, delivering supplies by the carloads to shelters and other designated sites. People cooked pounds of red beans and rice and jambalaya to feed evacuees. Others took the stranded and temporarily homeless into their own houses.

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2:30 p.m.

Many of the homeowners who live in areas inundated with floodwaters have no flood insurance, a problem that will leave them draining savings accounts and relying on federal disaster programs to rebuild and repair.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said in hard-hit Baton Rouge only 12 percent of residences are covered by flood insurance. In Lafayette, the number is 14 percent.

Donelon said Monday that the numbers “were really shocking” when he looked them up.

People in many of the areas that remain underwater weren’t considered in a high-risk flooding area and weren’t required to carry flood insurance by their mortgage lenders. Also, if a home is paid off, flood insurance even in a high-risk area is at the discretion of the homeowner.

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1:35 p.m.

The National Weather Service says catastrophic rains like the downpours that hit parts of southern Louisiana are “extremely tough” to forecast.

Meteorologist Ken Graham of the National Weather Service’s office in Slidell says forecasters knew and alerted people days in advance of the upcoming storms but the problem in such events is pinpointing where it will hit.

Forecasts Thursday were for 8 inches of rain with higher totals expected in some areas. Graham emphasizes that forecasting exactly how much rain is going to fall is nearly impossible — “especially for a historic event.”

Some areas such as the town of Zachary received more than 2 feet of rain in a 48-hour period that ended Saturday morning. Another hard-hit area — Livingston — received nearly 22 inches of rain over the same stretch.

The weather service uses the rainfall forecasts to calculate how high the rivers are going to rise.

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12:45 p.m.

Volunteers with boats are part of the rescue effort in badly flooded parts of Louisiana.

Among them is Jared Serigne St. Bernard Parish, who told The Associated Press he helped organize volunteer efforts involving roughly 70 experienced boaters who rescued hundreds from flooded communities such as Monticello, St. Amant and Port Vincent.

State officials say about 20,000 people had to be rescued and 10,000 were staying at shelters.

Serigne said the volunteers have to navigate through unfamiliar neighborhoods. And finding points from which to safely launch boats has been difficult.

Serigne says the government’s response has been too slow to clear roadways and provide access to potential launch points that could be used by volunteers.

Serigne is a producer of a cable TV outdoors show and marketing director for a marine equipment business.

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12:20 p.m.

The Louisiana State Police has allowed people to reclaim cars left behind on a portion of an interstate in some of the worst-hit flooding areas of south Louisiana.

Trooper Bryan Lee said Monday that people were brought back to get vehicles on a stretch of Interstate 12. Many motorists had in some instances been stranded overnight awaiting rescue.

Lee says those people, along with others who had remained with their cars, were allowed to drive their vehicles with a police escort away from the interstate.

Other vehicles that were out of gas, stalled or unclaimed were being towed Monday to the shoulder to help clear the interstate.

Vehicles remain stuck on other parts of I-12, however, near Baton Rouge, which still had water and remained impassable.

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11:20 a.m.

A local official says people need baby formula at a convention center that has turned into a shelter for about 600 people affected by the flooding in southern Louisiana.

Meredith Conger of the Ascension Parish homeland security office said Monday that the one thing they need more than anything else is baby formula.

She couldn’t say how many homes and businesses in Ascension were affected by the flooding, but said most of them were in some way.

Ascension officials say the rivers are reaching high levels Monday, and not going down anytime soon.

About 20,000 people have been rescued from their homes and more than 10,000 people are in shelters after a slow-moving storm system dumped nearly 2 feet of rain.

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10:15 a.m.

A state official says at least six people have died in the floods in southern Louisiana.

Devin George, the state registrar for vital records, said Monday that the storm-related deaths include two people in East Baton Rouge Parish, two in St. Helena Parish and two in Tangipahoa Parish.

State officials say 20,000 people have been rescued from their homes and more than 10,000 people are in shelters after a slow-moving storm system dumped nearly 2 feet of rain in some areas.

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8:25 a.m.

The sun is shining in Lafayette, Louisiana, but flood waters remain high across the heart of Acadiana.

The National Weather Service says the Vermilion River which runs through Lafayette remains at its crest of 17.5 feet Monday. The flood state is 10 feet.

At Carencro, just north of Lafayette, the Vermilion is holding steady at its crest of 21.4 feet. The flood stage is 17 feet.

Meteorologist Donald Jones at the weather service office in Lake Charles says the river should start to recede late Monday night.

Jones says there’s a chance of more rain all week, but the individual systems shouldn’t produce more than a half-inch and will have little or no effect on the flooding situation.

Jones says the low pressure system that brought flooding to the Baton Rouge area and south central Louisiana got caught up in another system over the weekend and is now over southern Missouri.

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7:15 a.m.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says damage reports are coming in on the flooding in southern Mississippi.

Greg Flynn, an agency spokesman, says Wilkinson County Emergency Management reported 71 homes damaged by flooding, primarily in the towns of Crosby and Centreville.

Flynn said there are 67 people in the shelter opened in Natchez on Saturday. The Mississippi Department of Human Services and American Red Cross are managing the shelter.

Officials in Amite, Harrison and Pike counties report several roads damaged by the flood waters.

Flynn says damage assessments conducted by MEMA and local officials are scheduled to begin Monday.

The National Weather Service says southwest Mississippi received over 14 inches of rain late Thursday and Friday.

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6:35 a.m.

The National Weather Service says the rivers in the Baton Rouge area have started to fall, but still remain above flood stage setting record levels over the weekend.

Forecaster Mike Efferson at the weather service office in Slidell, Louisiana, says the rivers and streams north of Interstate 12 have crested and have started to drop, while those south of the interstate continue to rise.

Efferson says the Comite River just east of Baton Rouge on Monday morning dropped nearly 2 feet from the 34.2-feet level over the weekend. Flood stage is 20 feet.

He says Amite River at Denham Springs is at 43.5 feet Monday after reaching 46.2 feet. Flood stage is 29 feet.

Efferson says the area around Baton Rouge could see up to a half-inch of rain Monday, with a 40 to 50 percent chance in the forecast.

The Baton Rouge area remains under a flood watch until 4 p.m. Monday, but Efferson said it likely will be extended.

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6:35 a.m.

Retired LSU football and basketball announcer Jim Hawthorne has been rescued from his Baton Rouge home amid catastrophic flooding in southern Louisiana.

LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette asked the public for help on Twitter on Sunday and said Hawthorne couldn’t be reached on his cellphone. He later tweeted that Hawthorne had been rescued and is safe.

Hawthorne tells NOLA.com (http://bit.ly/2bhoaVA) that he had a foot-and-a-half of water in his home when he and his wife were rescued by a passing boat Sunday afternoon. He says they’re staying at the home of Baton Rouge sports radio personality Charles Hanagriff.

Hawthorne retired following this past season. NOLA.com reports new LSU play-by-play announcer Chris Blair evacuated his home with his family earlier Sunday.

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5:45 a.m.

The Louisiana Department of Health has opened a special needs shelter in the field house on the LSU campus for those affected by the flooding in the Baton Rouge area.

Spokesman Bob Johannessen said Sunday night the shelter is for people with special medical conditions.

Johannessen said the shelter is designed for individuals who are homebound, chronically ill or who have disabilities and are in need of medical or nursing care, and have no other place to get care.

He says those seeking shelter will be screened by nurses to determine the level of care needed. Only people who meet admission criteria can be sheltered.

If a person’s condition is too critical, they will be referred to a hospital for sheltering or admission. If their condition isn’t severe enough for the medical special needs shelter, they’ll be referred to a general shelter.

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2:10 a.m.

Thousands of people are living in shelters after rising waters forced them to flee their homes in southern Louisiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says more than 10,000 people are in shelters and more than 20,000 people have been rescued from their homes.

One of those shelters is the Baton Rouge River Center, a major events location in the capital city’s downtown. It was opened Sunday night to handle the large numbers of evacuees.

The federal government has declared a major disaster in four parishes following widespread flooding across southeastern Louisiana.

Edwards said President Barack Obama called him and said the people of southern Louisiana are in his thoughts and prayers and that the federal government will be a solid partner.

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