NEW ORLEANS — Several parishes in northwest Louisiana have declared a state of emergency over widespread flooding, and the National Guard is being sent in to help.
Governor John Bel Edwards issued the order Wednesday after nearly a foot of rain fell in the area Tuesday night and Wednesday. The governor's office says eight guardsmen and four high water vehicles will be used in Bossier Parish. Dozens of homes were flooded and scores of residents were evacuated, but no one was hurt.
Louisiana State Police closed a section of Interstate 20 near Gibsland after both the eastbound and westbound lanes were covered with a foot of water, making the road impassible.
Meteorologist Matthew Duplantis of the National Weather Service in Shreveport said a Wednesday morning rain brought an additional 2 to 4 inches to the area. A storm line forming north of Houston, Texas, will push northward Wednesday afternoon, bring 3 to 5 inches. The system will also contain severe weather in the form of high winds and the possibility of isolated tornados.
Meteorologist Michael Berry said between 7 and 11 inches of rain fell in northern DeSoto Parish, southeast Caddo Parish, southern Bossier Parish and most of Webster Parish Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning and another 7 to 10 inches of rain will fall in the next 24 to 36 hours.
"A flash flood watch continues for all of north Louisiana until Friday afternoon," Berry said.
The heavy rain flooded up to 80 homes, causing a nursing home near Minden to be evacuated, some high water rescues and water in the Webster Parish Courthouse.
Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said some Doyline residents near Lake Bistineau were evacuated by Wildlife and Fisheries officers. He said authorities used boats to reach the residents. Meadowview Health and Rehab Center had to evacuate a portion of the building because of flooding.
In Caddo Parish, authorities evacuated about 20 residents from the Greenway Apartments in Greenwood.
Lt. Bill Davis of the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office said deputies went door-to-door in the Fox Chase Subdivision to evacuate about 30 homes Tuesday night.
"We are evacuating 24 homes in the Tall Timbers subdivision this morning," Davis said. "About half the people evacuated during the night had to be removed from their homes by boats or high water vehicles."
Schools across north Louisiana are closed Wednesday. Rural roads traveled by school buses are covered by water, Davis said.
A flash flood watch remains in effect for central Louisiana until Thursday afternoon.
Over southeast Louisiana, including the New Orleans metro area, forecasters say the slow moving low pressure system is expected to bring a few rounds of heavy rainfall beginning Thursday morning and continue through early Saturday. Rainfall totals could reach 10 inches in some areas and could result in some flooding.