Village St. George Flooding 5

Water reached rare heights Monday night in Village St. George, entering some homes and threatening others in the southeastern East Baton Rouge Parish neighborhood. Unofficial gauges registered 5 inches of rain in a four-hour period, and there were some estimates that as much as 10-12 inches of rain fell in parts of the Metro area Monday evening.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome didn't know Tuesday how many homes in East Baton Rouge Parish had flooded after a torrential downpour, but she tried to ease residents' fears that the parish might experience the same historic flooding it did in 2016 as forecasters predicted more storms through the rest of the week. 

"We're already seeing significant drops in the water levels — especially in the southeast part of the parish," Broome said Tuesday morning. "I can assure you our pumps are working and our drains are flowing."

The National Weather Service estimated as much as 13.7 inches pelted parts of southeast Baton Rouge Monday night, more water than the city-parish's drainage system can handle, the mayor said. 

High-water rescue crews responded to more than 800 calls in the city-parish overnight regarding flooding and related emergencies and more than 250 people had to be rescued Monday night. 

The deluge was the result of a strong and slow-moving storm. It flooded streets throughout the region, shutting down I-10 between Siegen and Highland. Weather forecasters say 4-6 inches more could fall Tuesday afternoon, which could worsen the flooding.

"As we prepare for the potential of more rains, I want to ease your fears," Broome said. "We're not under the same threat as we were in 2016 at this time."

That's because the region saw a significant break in rainfall early Tuesday that's giving drainage canals enough time to get rainwaters flowing, according to Fred Raiford, the city-parish's drainage director. 

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"The biggest difference is the intensity of the rainfall and the duration of that rainfall," Raiford said. "(In 2016) it happened for many days when it rained here and then it moved up to the northern part of the parish and dumped another 15 to 16 inches of rain."

"The wind conditions in the Gulf (of Mexico) impacted how well water flowed back then too-holding it up a good bit," Raiford added. 

In the meantime, Broome is asking citizens to help her office in trying to assess flooding damage to homes and business by reporting it at brla.gov/emergency

"That's going to help us get a clear idea of the scope and the magnitude of the damage," said Mark Armstrong, a spokesman for Broome. "It's also going to help us apply for federal aid related to the damage."

In the coming days, she also asked motorists to minimize their travel as much as possible. 

"We saw an unprecedented amount of folks who were out on the roadways during this event," she said. "And we're now seeing the remnants of that with all the cars left behind in the roadways." 

The Baton Rouge Police Department spent much of Tuesday morning towing any abandoned cars that were blocking any roadways.  

"We're under flash flood watch through noon (Wednesday)," the mayor said. "Our city is too familiar with these unfortunate circumstances. While we have seen our fair share of weather events, this loss is never easy."


Email Terry Jones at tjones@theadvocate.com