Update, 7:15 p.m. Sunday

Interstate 12 is now open in both directions from Interstate 55 in Hammond to U.S. 190 in Covington, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development's North Shore Traffic Twitter feed.

Update, 6:05 p.m. Sunday

Interstate 12 is now open in both directions from Juban to Interstate 55, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development's Baton Rouge Traffic Twitter feed. Flooding has I-12 closed in both directions between U.S. 61 and U.S. 190 in Covington.


Update, 3:39 p.m. Sunday

As the waters on Interstate 12 recede, the Louisiana State Police have opened I-12 eastbound east of Interstate 55 towards Mississippi, according to the LSP's Twitter feed. Motorists are exiting now.

Update, 1:20 p.m. Sunday

The LSU Fieldhouse opened at 1 p.m. to allow Department of Hosptials staff to begin the setting up equipment needed for a medical special needs shelter. The shelter is not yet open to patients. LSU will send an update when the shelter opens for patients.

Update, 1:02 p.m. Sunday

The city of Central was essentially an island Sunday, with its major thoroughfares in and out of the city completely flooded by the overflowing rivers.

After the initial frenzy Saturday to find higher ground away from their homes, many people returned Sunday to assess their damage, grab supplies or rescue friends and families who stayed behind.

 

Can't see the video? Click here.

Joor, Hooper, and Greenwell Springs roads, along with the Central Thruway, have been blocked for several miles preventing easy access to Central.

For the most part, people trying to access their own homes or check on others had to get there by boat on Sunday.

Albert White, pastor of the Abounding Love Church on Hooper Road, caught a ride with a good Samaritan who volunteered his motorboat.

"I've been here since 1997 and never seen anything like this," he said as the boat motored past home after home on Hooper with water so deep it only showed the tips of fence lines and the very tops of mailboxes.

The man with the boat was trying to orchestrate a path to rescue his friend on Joor Road, a man he said is a dog trainer stranded with 32 animals at his house.

But the problem many people trying to rescue others by boats were facing was the intermittent pattern of flooding, with deep lake-like pools separated by dry bouts of road. It makes it difficult for a boat to make a straight shot.

Chad Savant, from LeBeau north of Opelousas, showed up with his boat at the flood waters' edge on Hooper Road looking for a way to get to his brother's family on Joor Road about three miles up.

He said the last time he talked to his brother Lyle was Saturday when they had about 2 inches of water in the house and planned to ride out the flood. He said his brother was affected by the widespread AT&T cell phone outages and he has been unable to contact him.

Dustin Sinclair, who lives off Hooper Road, lives in a house that avoided damage, but they were cut off from access to stores and working roads.

He put on knee high rain boots and started walking toward the nearest opened convenience store for supplies a half mile away with water getting as high as his chest before he caught a ride in a boat.

"You gotta do, what you gotta do," he said.

Brothers Cleveland and Mark Schofield pulled up with a boat on Mickens Road looking toward Joor Road.

Cleveland Schofield said they were going to check on the status of their homes in Hampton Estates subdivision, because they hadn't yet seen the extent of the flooding. Then they were going to search for others who were stranded in the area.

--Advocate staff writer Rebekah Allen

Update, 12:41 p.m. Sunday

Ochsner Medical Center Baton Rouge on O'Neal Lane is not being evacuated, as was incorrectly reported earlier Sunday by The Advocate. Hospital spokesman Keith Darcy said they are moving 20 patients as a precaution. "Everyone else is OK. We're doing fine." The Advocate regrets the error.

"Approximately 20 critically ill patients have been transferred to other Ochsner facilities and an additional 20 will be transferred shortly, as a precautionary measure, to ensure ongoing continuity of care effective immediately," the hospital reported in a news release.

"At this point, we are monitoring the water levels and the situation with local and state officials. We have not made a decision to transport additional patients at this time."

"Ochsner patients can have confidence that their medical records are safe and available via MyOchsner as well as at any Ochsner location. Ochsner has an electronic medical record system and can offer continuous care regardless of where you see an Ochsner doctor."

For more information, follow Ochsner on Facebook: Ochsner Health System; or Twitter: @OchsnerHeatlh.

Update, 11:45 a.m. Sunday

Interstate 10 westbound has closed at La. 73 in Ascension Parish until further notice, the Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page at 11:40 a.m.

Traffic is being rerouted to Airline Highway.

Update, 11:37 a.m. Sunday

Louisiana State Police troopers are monitoring high water levels on Interstate 10 westbound at the East Baton Rouge Parish and Ascension Parish line, according to the agency’s Facebook page.

It’s possible that I-10 westbound may be shut down today, State Police said.

Anyone traveling is asked to avoid that area and stay off roadways unless absolutely necessary.

Update, 11:30 a.m. Sunday

Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said Sunday that officials are “still doing everything we can” to help those affected by flooding.

Anyone in need of assistance should call 911 or the hotline at 225-686-3996 for assistance, Ard said, adding that people should keep calling if they don’t get through immediately.

South Walker in particular has seen a lot of damage, Ard said. A couple churches that were acting as shelters had to be evacuated.

“Mother Nature’s not cooperating with us at all,” he said.

Update, 11:00 a.m. Sunday

Parts of Baker and Zachary remained submerged in stagnant water Sunday morning, but no active rescues were taking place, officials in those cities said.

At least 500 people had been evacuated the day before in each city, said Baker Mayor Darnell Waites and Zachary Police Chief David McDavid.

The Baker City Fire Department, which is traditionally used as an emergency operations center, took on 4 feet of water, displacing public safety operations to the municipal building, where water had crept up near the door Sunday morning.

 

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Now, dispatchers in Baker and Zachary are being inundated by thousands of 911 calls that are re-routed from other parishes because of hiccups with other call centers, officials said.

The cities were largely quiet Sunday, with many having already fled, leaving behind eerie, abandoned streets where houses and vehicles disappeared into dark water. Businesses such as gas stations appeared only sporadically open.

McDavid said his officers arrested three looters on Sunday, but he was unable to immediately provide more information.

"Ain't no water gonna stop Louisiana," said Steve George, a Baker resident. "We swamp people."

George, 37, who lives in a trailer that he says was spared, couldn't navigate back to his house through the murky water surrounding his home on all sides.

He stared down McHugh Road just south of Baker Boulevard, where a big rig with the Pepsi logo was half-sunk in the water. He decided against wading in.

"I've never seen Baker like this," he said. "I've been living here my whole life. We used to joke about the water."

A gigantic tree limb, likely soaked and heavy from the rain, had crushed a nearby house and two parked cars.

Shana Brumfield, whose own house is a place of refuge for others, looked on with disbelief as her residence on Tristan Street in Baker narrowly avoided water. Just a couple doors down, the road had turned into a lake.

"The past few days have been devastating. I went through this with Katrina, so to have to go through this again," the onetime New Orleans resident said, shaking her head.

Several churches are acting as shelters for evacuees, including Redemption Life Fellowship and Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Baker and First Baptist Church and Church of Christ in Zachary.

Waites, of Baker, said he'd gotten reports that water pressure was very low in that city, but no indication that it's unsafe to drink. McDavid said he hadn't heard of problems with that municipality's water system.

Houses and yards on both sides of Main Street in Zachary between the Scotlandville-Zachary Highway and Plank Road are swamped.

McDavid said he is heartened by the numerous volunteers who assisted law enforcement with rescues by showing up with their own boats and following instructions.

"It was unbelievable," he said. "Without them, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did."

-- Advocate staff writer Maya Lau

Update, 10:47 a.m. Sunday

More than 5,000 people in East Baton Rouge Parish are in emergency shelters and search and rescue operations are still underway with new areas flooding as water flows south.

"It's pretty bad," said JoAnne Moreau, director of the Mayor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. "We've got a lot of evacuees and shelters."

Overnight, some of the shelters housing residents had to be evacuated and people moved as flood waters shifted and rose around the parish.

"Flooding first happened where the rain fell and now it's moving so and so we have all new people (needing help)," said William Daniel,chief administrative officer with the parish. "Choctaw looks like a river."

Video: Coast Guard responds to Baton Rouge flooding (via Coast Guard)

Reports of water rising in areas like Shenandoah and along Boulevard de Province between Old Hammond Highway and Interstate 12 show that flooding in the parish is still an ongoing threat even if the heavy rain has moved on.

Around 10:30 Saturday, three nursing homes in the parish called for help evacuating patients, the work of which went into the morning hours. The nursing homes — Colonial Care Retirement Center, Heritage Manor of Baton Rouge and Flannery Oaks — had about 300 patients who were moved using high water rescue vehicle and buses, Moreau said.

--Advocate staff writer Amy Wold

Update, 10:33 a.m. Sunday

An impromptu rescue boat launch has appeared in the middle of a state highway in Ascension Parish where residents are trying to reach their homes and rescue family and neighbors from floods caused by a swollen Amite River.

Many private vessels, including at least one airboat, are weighing anchor in the middle of La. 431 near La. 931 in northeast Ascension.

A single sheriff's deputy is minding the roadblock but the boaters are all civilians.

Mauri Johnson fled Saturday night after a downed tree knocked out power to her home.

On Sunday morning, she was trying to hitch a ride to her house on La. 42. When she had left on Saturday, the water was higher than her waist, and levels continued to rise as the Amite swelled.

"I would have never thought in a million years that the water would have gotten high enough (to flood my home)," Johnson said.

A north Louisiana native, she bought the house only three months ago.

-- from Advocate staff writer Steve Hardy

Update, 9:40 a.m. Sunday

Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa said Sunday that a voluntary evacuation has been issued north of La. 42 and east of La. 431.

“If you can get out, get out now,” Matassa said.

Original story:

The overnight hours saw the Amite River crest at Denham Springs bringing record-breaking flooding to that river, which could stay elevated through the beginning of next week.

That bulge of water resulting from heavy rainfall that dumped more than 20 inches on some areas since Thursday is now headed downstream causing the river to still rise at Bayou Manchac Point and Port Vincent.

At Manchac Point, the river was at 18.5 feet early Sunday morning, major flood, and expected to rise to 21.5 feet by Monday morning. Farther down river at Port Vincent, the water elevation was at 14.43 feet, just barely below the 1983 record set at 14.6 and was still on the rise. The National Weather Service forecasts the river to reach 16 feet by early morning Tuesday, but flooding concerns in lower Ascension Parish could start way before that point.

The system of levees and pumps that helps keep lower Ascension Parish relatively dry was designed to meet the 1983 flood. With more water on the way, parish officials were concerned Saturday that the system could be overwhelmed and lead to flooding surpassing what residents saw in 1983.

Parish officials are meeting this morning to discuss what actions to take. Phone lines in the parish are experiencing problems and instead of calling 911, people looking for help are asked to 225-621-8300 option 1.

In Baker, Mayor Darnell Waites said Sunday morning that about 500 people were evacuated Saturday but that there were no active rescues going on today.

Many roads in and out of the greater Baton Rouge area remain closed due to flooding, but at least one bright spot appeared Saturday evening when Interstate 10 was reopened in both directions. Interstate 12 remains closed in both directions. More information about road conditions is available at the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development 511la.org.

For people staying off the roads, as officials were still recommending Sunday morning, many people in East Baton Rouge Parish got to do so in the dark. Entergy was reporting more than 10,000 people in the parish were without power.

Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.