Emily Maranto always keeps an eye on the creek beside her house near the Amite River when it starts to rain in Livingston.
This week, as a series of powerful thunderstorms dropped nearly 10 inches of rain over four days in parts of the Baton Rouge area, the 21-year-old said she’s been on edge with the memory of the August 2016 flood that devastated Livingston Parish and forced her family to evacuate from its home.
“As a community, life kind of stops until the weather gets better,” said Maranto, an LSU senior who runs Emily’s Bakery Co. from her home on Meadow Ridge Lane north of Watson.
Heavy rain is no longer an afterthought to residents in Livingston and throughout the region, including in Tangipahoa, which was similarly inundated with flood waters in 2016, Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller said.
The Amite River, the Amite Diversion Canal and other waterways in Ascension and Livingston parishes will close noon Thursday to recreational t…
“If you can remember 2015, if it rained like this you would say ‘wow, there’s a bunch of rain,’” Miller said. “Then you fast forward through 2016, whenever it rains like this you start to start to be on edge just because of the traumatics of what happened in ‘16 with all the flooding.”
While the rain is expected to continue through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, rainfall totals since Monday are well below that of the August 2016 flood. Close to 20 inches of rain fell in some parts of the region within a 24-hour period in 2016.
Between Baton Rouge and Slidell, where the New Orleans/Baton Rouge NWS outpost is located, 6 to 8 inches of rain have fallen since Monday in some pockets, said Julie Lesko, senior service hydrologist with the NWS. In southern Tangipahoa near Lake Pontchartrain, 10 inches of rain have fallen since Monday in some areas, Lesko said.
“All this rain has contributed to the rivers getting very high,” Lesko said. “We’re not looking at 2016 levels, but still very significant within the past year. The last time we saw certain rivers get this high was at the very least a year ago, and in some cases a lot longer.”
The Tangipahoa River is experiencing the most significant flooding in the region, reaching a moderate flood stage at 19.3 feet Friday evening, with a forecasted peak of 20 feet early Sunday morning, according to a river gauge near Robert monitored by the NWS. The Amite River near Denham Springs was at a minor flood stage Friday evening and is expected to rise several feet through Sunday but remain at minor levels, according to the NWS gauge there.
At most, other rivers across the Baton Rouge region are expected to swell to minor to moderate flood stages before the rain moves out of the region by the end of the weekend and they drop back down, Lesko said.
Upstream of the region's many rivers has also experienced less rainfall, allowing the rivers to recede quicker once the rain moves out of the area, Lesko said.
Deanna Welch, her hair up and shoulders bare, sat out on the steamy sidewalk in a soggy office chair reupholstered in cardboard, tapping fever…
Both Miller and Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks assured their residents that that flooding was manageable and their parish governments were prepared to address any minor flooding that arises.
Ricks and Miller said officials in their respective parishes expected perhaps some flooding in low-lying spots that traditionally get water when the rivers start to rise.
Still, officials will have sandbags ready if needed, high water signs where necessary and some emergency crews in the field just in case.
“Outside of that, we’re not expecting a huge” rise in water, Ricks said.
As the rain lets up, the anxiety of residents around Maranto’s home and macaron bakery is expected to recede as the Amite River does the same next week.
“The weather is no longer a boring subject down here,” Maranto said.