Louisiana begins evacuations for Harvey on 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Heavy bands of rain have spread from Texas into Louisiana.

ByABC News
August 29, 2017, 5:11 PM

— -- The catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey is not limited to Texas, it's also affecting parts of southwest Louisiana where preparations are underway to evacuate some areas.

As the heavy band of rain stretches over southwest Louisiana, residents in the Lake Charles region are once again bracing for impact like they did for Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago.

According to the National Weather Service, Harvey will make landfall again later early Wednesday morning as a tropical storm.

Dick Gremillion, director of homeland security and preparedness, said Tuesday, "We are not going to escape this, we are going to get more rain."

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said 671 members of the National Guard have been activated. The 15 soldiers who are stationed in New Orleans are reporting on the status of the city's drainage pumps, Edwards said.

First responders have rescued about 500 people so far, and there are currently 269 people in shelters in southwest Louisiana, 200 of whom were rescued, Edwards said.

While the department is not enforcing mandatory evacuations, "we strongly suggest it," especially for areas "prone to flooding," Gremillion said.

Surrounding areas in southwest Louisiana have already received 10 to 20 inches of rain and another 10 to 15 inches of rain is still possible. The NWS expects major flooding in Calcasieu River, winds of 45 miles-per-hour and falling trees due to heavy rain and tornadoes.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter warned residents on Tuesday that if they were concerned about homes flooding last night they should "pull the trigger today and let us help you get out."

The storm could leave the area as early as Wednesday night, but extended rain bands may continue into Thursday.

On Monday night, water rose to chest-high in some areas, flooding homes and forcing hundreds of evacuations in one neighborhood, according to Lake Charles Fire Department Division Chief Lennie LaFleur.

Among the nearly 500 rescued, one family displaced by the rising water said they were forced to move quickly in the middle of the night to flee their flooded home.

When the water rose to four feet high, a single father's four children began to blow up inflatable boats using their own breath to help their dad and grandma. The father pulled his family atop the inflatables for nearly half a mile from their home to an evacuation center.

Local authorities are concerned the floodwater surrounding the shelter could continue to rise as the rain picks back up Tuesday evening.

As storm forecasts show further movement into the state, Louisiana's governor is warning that "the worst is likely to come for us here."

Harvey "does remain a named tropical storm and it's going to drop an awful lot of rain," Edwards said at a news conference Monday. "We do have a long way to go with this particular storm."

Flash flood warnings and watches are in effect as the outer bands that have done the most damage in Houston are expected to move further inland into Louisiana by Wednesday, ABC News meteorologists said. Officials are monitoring storm surge and high tides, which could increase flooding.

The storm will make landfall again the day after the 12-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In a press conference, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the memories from Hurricane Katrina are "flashing back to us as the images from Houston rain down on us."

"If that storm came our way, we would likely experience the same thing as Houston, if not worse," Landrieu said.

Landrieu said the city of New Orleans will "never forget the incredible compassion" it received from the people of Houston. On Monday, he reactivated the NOLA Pay It Forward Fund, which raised $250,000 last year when the city of Baton Rouge was affected by widespread flooding.

New Orleans public schools will be open Thursday, Landrieu said, but he asked residents to "stay alert and stay vigilant tonight" in case the storm deviates. City workers are continuing to man pump stations to get all pumps and power back, Landrieu said.

The mayor asked residents to prepare to stay off the streets in the event of flash flooding.

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