Heavy rains in Texas, Louisiana add to misery in flood zones

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The National Weather Service warned Wednesday that more rain is expected this week in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, including areas where flooding has already caused misery this week.

Forecasters said 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain could fall in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana on Thursday and Friday, two areas already hard hit. Flash flood watches stretched from southwest Louisiana and east Texas northward into Arkansas and Oklahoma Wednesday evening. The weather service said they would be in effect through Thursday evening there and along the western and central Gulf of Mexico coast.

Rainy weather and flooding are suspected factors in at least four Louisiana deaths. And one person was missing after a car went into a canal.

In central Arkansas, at least 15 people were rescued from flash flooding after heavy rainfall late Tuesday and early Wednesday, emergency officials said. There were no reports of injuries.

Downpours earlier this week swamped vehicles and closed a major interstate highway in southwest Louisiana, including the Lake Charles area. It’s an area still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes last fall and a deep freeze in February. Twelve to 15 inches of rain fell in parts of Lake Charles in a 12-hour period Monday, the weather service said.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, piles of ruined furniture, carpet and clothing lined the street in a neighborhood where residents were beginning to clean up from the earlier storms, WBRZ-TV reported. One man, David Earl, told the station that so much water flowed into his home through cracks and a dog door that his furniture began to float.

Some schools in Louisiana were closed on Wednesday in anticipation of severe weather.

“It is mind-boggling,” said Patrick King of Lake Charles. He was at a car rental office Tuesday after his truck was flooded Monday. He still hadn’t moved back into his house after it flooded during October’s Hurricane Delta, but recently had new furniture delivered to the home. Now it’s been flooded again.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter estimated that 400 to 500 structures flooded during Monday’s downpours. Hunter was mayor last year when the city was hit by Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27 and then six weeks later by Delta. Then in February, the deep freeze froze pipes and caused widespread drinking water problems.

Louisiana State Police said investigators believe an automobile crash that killed the driver and a toddler Wednesday may have been caused in part by driving too fast for the weather. It was raining when the car ran off U.S. 90 and hit a tree in St. Mary Parish between Morgan City and Amelia, Trooper First Class Derek Senegal said in a news release.

Earlier, the Calcasieu Parish coroner said a 61-year-old man was found in a vehicle submerged under water. The body of 33-year-old Justin Blaine Thompson was found in a vehicle submerged in water under a Baton Rouge overpass, another coroner’s office said. And near Port Allen, 40-year-old Alvarado Morentes Hermelindo died and another person was missing after their car crashed into a canal Monday evening, Louisiana State Police said.

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