Sun shines, but flood remains deep in Louisiana

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

Southern Louisiana and Mississippi are still recovering from devastating and historic flooding brought on by a sudden deluge late last week.

Devin George, the Louisiana state registrar for vital records, said Monday that six 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.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards -- who like his Mississippi counterpart declared a state of emergency over the rising waters -- called the floods "unprecedented" and "historic." He and his family were even forced to leave the Governor's Mansion when chest-high water filled the basement and electricity was shut off.

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.

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.

In Louisiana, 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.

Two men on a boat pulled a woman from a car that was almost completely underwater, according to video from CBS affiliate WAFB, as floodwaters swept across Louisiana on Saturday.

The woman, who is not initially visible on camera, yells from inside the car: "Oh my god, I'm drowning."

One of the rescuers, David Phung, jumps into the brown water and pulls the woman to safety. She pleads with Phung to get her dog, but he can't find it. After several seconds, Phung takes a deep breath, goes underwater and resurfaces - with the small dog.

Both the woman and the dog appeared to be OK.

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.

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.

Gov. 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.