Heavy rains hammer southern Louisiana with more to come

Heavy rains in western Louisiana flooded streets, left cars stranded and heightened worries in a region hammered by two hurricanes last year and a deep freeze this winter

The National Weather Service said in a Facebook post Monday that south Lake Charles in western Louisiana saw 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 centimeters) of rain in a 12-hour period. But the rainfall wasn't limited to that one area. Numerous areas in Calcasieu Parish where Lake Charles is located saw totals of 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) of rainfall Monday.

The mayor of Lake Charles, Nic Hunter, told The Advocate that they didn't have an exact number of flooded homes but that it would likely be in the hundreds. Hunter was mayor last fall when the city was hit by Hurricane Laura on August 27 and then six weeks later by Hurricane Delta.

“We will continue to be resilient through this event. But I will admit it would be nice if Mother Nature would give us a break," Hunter told the newspaper.

Parts of southeastern Texas and western Louisiana were under flash flood warnings on Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service's Lake Charles office. Several inches (centimeters) of rain also feel on parts of Arkansas.

Tornadoes also were a threat as storms pounded south Louisiana.

In Lafayette, The Daily Advertiser reported that multiple warnings of possible tornadoes prompted shelter-in-place warnings at area schools, where students were held past the usual dismissal time until the danger passed. The National Weather Service in Lake Charles reported that the public reported a possible tornado in the Church Point area of rural Acadia Parish, west of Lafayette. There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.

The Baton Rouge area was also hammered with rain Monday. The National Weather Service's New Orleans branch said on its Twitter feed that according to radar estimates as much as 12 inches of rain may have fallen in parts of East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Iberville parishes.

In Ascension Parish, Parish President Clint Cointment put all employees responsible for drainage issues on alert after the “massive amount of rain.”

Meanwhile, the sheriff's office for Calcasieu parish was asking residents to stay off the roads and said they had already deployed high water vehicles and boats to assist residents, KPLC reported.

Photos on local media showed water up to the doorsteps in one subdivision of Lake Charles while vehicles sought to navigate flooded streets in another part of town.

The rainy weather is expected to continue in southern Louisiana through the middle of the week.

Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency late Monday for southwest Louisiana.

Western Louisiana is still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes Laura and then Delta last year. And then, in February, frigid temperatures froze pipes and led to problems getting drinking water to area residents.

The National Weather Service’s Little Rock office said on their Twitter feed, that parts of central Arkansas also had seen two to more than four inches (5-10 centimeters) of rain as of Monday morning. More rainfall is expected this week, the agency said.