CROWLEY — Parts of Acadia Parish, known for its flooded fields of rice and crawfish, braced for more days of rising waters after heavy downpours again swept through the area Tuesday.
The latest unwelcome drenching came even as the parish's major waterways were still topping their banks after a weekend of historic rainfall.
An average of 1-3 inches of rain fell on Acadia Parish on Tuesday afternoon, with western parts of the parish experiencing higher amounts, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters predict the threat of rain will recede by the weekend.
"The tropical moisture that's been in place across the area through much of this week is finally going to be exiting. So there will be a chance of showers and thunderstorms every day, but it's going to be closer to a more typical, summertime pattern," said Tim Humphrey, an NWS forecaster in Lake Charles.
In Crowley, Police Chief Jimmy Broussard said more of the city found itself under water Tuesday, and that the water had drifted south into the city's historic district.
Broussard estimated 35 to 40 percent of the city had flooded, and that some 200 residents had been rescued.
Acadia Parish Sheriff K.P. Gibson said the water in the streets and homes of Crowley residents is the result of unprecedented rain and water from the Mermentau River and Bayou Plaquemine-Brule backing up.
"Crowley is really backing up real bad right now," Gibson said mid-afternoon Tuesday.
Gibson said Acadia Parish officials are watching the water levels of the Mermentau, which is still expected to crest mid-Thursday.
About eight miles west of Crowley, in Midland, four men used a tractor to haul an aluminum boat off of Old Spanish Trail in an attempt to circumvent flooded local roads on a trip to Egan.
Old Spanish Trail held water about knee-deep on Tuesday afternoon as torrential rains in that particular part of the parish caused flash-flood warnings.
"This morning, the road was dry all the way to Crowley," said Blaine Monceaux, as his friends prepared the boat and tractor for its journey eight miles north. "It came up at least a foot in the last two hours."
Shannon Richard, who lives on Old Spanish Trail, said the rising water was about a foot away from threatening his home.
"But if it comes up about another three inches, it will come in my grandmother's house," Richard said.
The federal government on Tuesday added Acadia Parish to the list of 20 parishes statewide that were declared disaster areas.
Lafayette, Iberia, St. Landry, St. Martin, Vermilion, Evangeline, Jefferson Davis and Avoyelles parishes in the Acadiana region also are on the list.
The designation clears the way for federal relief money and other government aid to flood victims.
As water began creeping ever closer to houses throughout Acadia Parish on Tuesday, some 50 evacuees were already housed at one of the shelters operating in the region -- a Red Cross shelter at the International Rice Festival Building on Mills Street.
Officials have not issued a mandatory evacuation order for the parish or its municipalities, although Gibson, the sheriff, declared a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the unincorporated parts of the parish.
The parish courthouse will be closed on Wednesday. Acadia Parish schools will remain closed until Monday, the district announced.
Water from the flooding Mermentau River continued to gum up interstate travel, as a section of I-10 just north of Crowley was under water.
State Police early Tuesday opened up sections of Interstate 10 in south-central Louisiana to local traffic, but continued to detour other traffic on the interstate because of the flooding waterway.
Interstate travelers were still being routed north at Interstate 49 in Lafayette and at U.S. 165 in Iowa, then onto U.S. 190, Master Trooper Brooks David said.
David said drivers can merge onto I-10 in both directions from roads in Lafayette and other locales. But they cannot travel past Exit 82, located east of Crowley.
In Vermilion Parish, State Police also have opened one southbound lane of U.S. 167, David said.
State Police had closed both southbound lanes of U.S. 167.
The closures have taken place after historic rainfall hit south Louisiana late last week and over the weekend, flooding thousands of homes, including hundreds in Vermilion Parish.