Flooding across parts of the Baton Rouge region displaced residents and closed roads Sunday following heavy rain and wind overnight, particularly in East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes.
Water levels rose in some neighborhoods affected during the August 2016 floods, leaving local officials thankful for significantly less widespread damage this time around. About 50 people within the New Roads area and fewer than 10 people within the Clinton area were displaced into shelters Sunday afternoon, officials said.
Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres said an estimated 12 inches of rain fell within four hours Saturday night in and around New Roads — 15 inches total throughout the night. That high volume of water within a short period of time had nowhere to go since tributaries are already saturated.
By Sunday afternoon, Torres said, water had just started overflowing a small levee surrounding the Pecan Acres subdivision in New Roads — a neighborhood that residents have called “Flood City” after repeated flooding over the past several years, including in August 2016. Officials are pursuing a potential buyout program that would help residents of the roughly 40 households relocate and implement flood mitigation measures in the area, but they need 100 percent participation from residents in order to move forward.
Torres described the Pecan Acres neighborhood as “a complicated engineering situation for the past 20 or 30 years. … We’re trying to get it corrected.” He said some homes in the nearby Pleasant View subdivision also took in water Saturday night into Sunday.
Officials opened the William H. Scott Civic Center in New Roads as a shelter. Torres said about 50 people were displaced as of Sunday afternoon.
He said emergency response crews were moving into the neighborhoods and closing roads in that area as water continued rising — “not as a hazard — just a huge inconvenience.”
The need for water rescues had subsided Sunday afternoon after dozens the night before, and floodwaters had receded by evening without causing significant additional damage to Pecan Acres homes, Torres said. Crews were able to stabilize the levee and stop the breach relatively quickly.
Though the situation could have been much worse judging by the sheer amount of rainfall overnight, Torres said, officials had filed a disaster declaration for the parish president to sign and had made the governor's office aware of the flooding in hopes of later securing funding for cleanup efforts.
Crews in East Feliciana Parish also performed an estimated 20 boat rescues starting about 3 a.m. Sunday, said Jody Moreau, director of Homeland Security for East Feliciana Emergency Operations.
They established a temporary shelter for displaced families at the old fire department building on Jackson Street, Moreau said. Most people had found friends or family to stay with, with fewer than 10 people remaining in the shelter Sunday afternoon. If needed, Moreau said, officials would move them into an overnight shelter.
Moreau estimated about 6 inches of rainfall but said water levels were falling pretty fast. He said problems arose because the storm dumped even more rain north of Clinton, subjecting the area to downstream flooding.
“Even though the rain subsided, we got that trickle effect as the water pushed south,” he said.
U.S. Highway 61 was closed at Thompson Creek south of St. Francisville due to high water for several hours Sunday but reopened about 3 p.m., according to Louisiana State Police. Moreau also said two smaller bridges washed out in the northern part of the parish.
Officials announced Sunday evening that Discharge Bayou Bridge on La. 413 in Pointe Coupee Parish will be closed indefinitely due to damage resulting from floodwaters, according to a release from the state Department of Transportation and Development. Northbound and southbound traffic must detour around the bridge.
East Feliciana Parish Sheriff Jeff Travis said only a handful of houses across the parish had taken in water and no fatalities or injuries had been reported. “Relative to the (August 2016) floods, that’s good news,” he said.
Apart from some remaining power outages and downed trees, Travis said, cleanup efforts were wrapping up Sunday afternoon.
Scattered power outages were reported in parts of the Baton Rouge area on Sunday morning, and Entergy estimated that power would be restored by 8 a.m. Monday.
“Due to the thunderstorms along with the high winds that we have and continue to move through the area we are experiencing numerous outages,” an Entergy alert said. “Entergy personnel are working to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.”