Police are controlling roads in and out of French Settlement as water started pouring across La. 16. A handful of Cleco employees were evaluating an electrical substation to see if they needed to cut it off.
Lonnie Wells, 59, said he was planning on riding out the flood, even as he stood in calf-deep water on the road next to the motorboat that's become his main means of transportation.
Wells said water was six feet deep in front of his trailer but only a foot had made it inside so far. He said he intends to stick it out to watch his chickens, rabbits and dogs, some of whom had climbed into the trees to get out of water.
"We're going to try to hang in there," Wells said.
But Doug Murphy, a neighbor driving his truck loaded with family down La. 16 on his way out of town, urged Wells to hitch a ride on one of the National Guard trucks evacuating people from the area.
"Never seen nothing like this, never," said Murphy, 54, who already had about six feet of water in his home by noon Monday. "I got a park with eight trailers in it that went under with no flood in insurance. But hey, we breathing good air so we alive!"
Several convoys of pickups towing motor boats — at least a hundred in all — poured from Livingston toward Port Vincent and French Settlement to launch water rescues as water kept rising in the southern end of the parish. The Amite River is cresting at 17.5 feet in Port Vincent, which is well above flood stage, with the crest in French Settlement expected to come later.
The swollen Amite has already swamped more northern towns along the river, particularly Denham Springs and Watson.
Parish President Layton Ricks returned from a trip by boat in Livingston Parish to assess the extent of the flooding, but one trip Monday morning turned out to be personal.
This trip included a swing by his new house near Denham Springs and he witnessed what many in the Louisiana parish have discovered since heavy rains caused widespread flooding thoughout the southern part of the state.
"I lost furniture, everything. We just moved in two weeks ago," Ricks said. "But everybody's safe."