City, parish and state officials have begun touring areas affected by flooding that has caused hundreds of Baker and Zachary families to lose their homes and businesses.
Heavy rains began falling Thursday and continued until Sunday, causing water to rise rapidly in both communities.
On the east end of Zachary, residents and businesses along Plank Road and those along La. 64 from the Home Depot-Lane Regional Medical Center area to past Tucker Road were the most severely affected.
Other homes and businesses, including those along La. 19, La. 964, Lower Zachary Road, Vernon Road and Old Baker Road flooded or suffered water damage.
Zachary Police Chief David McDavid said more than 500 families were evacuated or displaced and possibly more than 1,000 homes damaged. About 20,000 people were displaced statewide.
Residents and leaders from Baker, Zachary and around the region and state volunteered Saturday in Zachary, offering the use of their boats and trucks.
"We lined them up and organized evacuation after evacuation," said McDavid. "It was amazing to see everyone roll up their sleeves and get to work doing whatever was needed to help."
The Louisiana National Guard and Coast Guard also worked around the clock over the weekend evacuating families and pets around the state, including some in Baker and Zachary.
Baker also was hit hard by flooding, with shelters at the Civic Club and Municipal Center quickly reaching capacity.
Mayor Darnell Waites said on Tuesday morning that waters had receded in Baker, but residents should use extreme caution when returning to their homes to begin assessing damages.
Twelve parishes have been included in Louisiana's declaration of disaster, Gov. John Bel Edwards' office confirmed on Tuesday, including Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tangipahoa and Vermilion.
More parishes could be added, as the state's initial request covered 21 parishes.
Those affected by the flood should visit disasterassistance.gov or call (800) 621-3362 to begin registering for FEMA aid. Residents are urged to take pictures of damage to homes and vehicles, keep a folder of important paperwork and add receipts for supplies purchased in the coming days.
Zachary officials say the city's water is safe and clean to use, and the Utility Department is constantly monitoring the system. Any changes to the water system will be posted on the city's website at cityofzachary.org or on its Facebook page.
Detailed emergency information at cityofzachary.org includes how to register for FEMA aid and DSNAP benefits, how to proceed with debris removal and cleanup efforts, garbage collection, vital flood information, insurance information, volunteer needs and requests, donations needed and an inclusive list of important phone numbers.
As of Monday, overnight curfews remained in effect for Zachary, and schools will remain closed through Friday.
Zachary Superintendent Scott Devillier said administrators are conducting assessments of the community, staffing and resources, and additional information will be provided in the coming days about when students can return to school. For updates, visit zacharycommunityschools.org.
Devillier said Monday that none of Zachary's schools were damaged by the flood.
To look for loved ones displaced by flooding, visit Louisiana Flood — Lost and Found at facebook.com/groups/2016louisianaflood.