Louisiana flooding victim: First Katrina, then house fire, now this

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8 dead, thousands displaced in Lousiana flooding
01:54 - Source: CNN

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Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue this week

Contrary to the governor's concern, a CDC official says he's not worried about Zika in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana CNN  — 

Jessica May escaped New Orleans days before Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and made a new life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. All was going well until one month ago, she said, when her home went up in flames.

After the fire, she and her partner, Denard Singleton, moved with their six kids, ages 4 to 10, into Singleton’s parents’ home in Denham Springs.

Then, on August 13, she had to flee again – this time, from the Amite River, which rose so quickly she had virtually no time to prepare.

Jessica May's family

Neighbors “were banging on the door at 6 o’clock in the morning,” May said. “We walked out, and you could see the water rising.”

She and her family waited for about an hour for a rescue boat.

“I was scared. I was like, ‘How are we going to get out of this?’” she wondered.

Tens of thousands were forced to abandon their homes and virtually all their belongings.

More than 20 inches of rain have pummeled Baton Rouge since last week, and more is on the way, forecasters said. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue through the week.

The disaster is blamed for at least nine deaths: six in East Baton Rouge Parish, two in St. Helena Parish and one in Tangipahoa Parish, local officials said.

The Coast Guard and other first responders scrambled to rescue more than 20,000 people and 1,000 pets.

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Watch rescuers pull woman from Louisiana flooding
00:59 - Source: wafb

Jessica May and her family were among those rescued. After getting ferried away on a boat, she said, they walked on a flooded interstate in hopes of finding drier ground.

“Good God the water wasn’t high” on the interstate, she said. “My kids were able to walk through the water.”

How to help Louisiana flood victims

Rescue by helicopter

The Coast Guard said it has rescued more than 118 people and assisted more than 766 people in Baton Rouge. Some flooding victims were rescued by helicopter.

Full coverage of Louisiana flooding

Louisiana flooding

Deaths: 9Rescues: More than 20,000 Rainfall: 20 inches over the weekend in the Baton Rouge areaHomes, businesses without power: 40,000 People living in shelters: 12,000 Parishes expected to be declared disaster areas: 30School systems closed: At least 4, plus Louisiana State University

  • Sources: Gov. John Bel Edwards, National Weather Service

    The disaster forced the closure of schools in East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. James and Tangipahoa parishes as well as Louisiana State University.

    President Barack Obama has granted the governor’s request for an emergency declaration to assist in response and recovery efforts. Gov. John Bel Edwards has deployed the Louisiana National Guard, which mobilized 1,700 soldiers to assist in search and rescue efforts. Military police are assisting local law enforcement with security.

    But search efforts and security aren’t the only concerns.

    “We’re going to have standing water all over south Louisiana,” Edwards told CNN. “We’re going to have more than our share of mosquitoes. And with the Zika threat, we need assistance to spray for mosquitoes and for mosquito control and abatement. That is made available to us as a result of the declaration.”

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ben Beard said experts will be monitoring the situation, but generally, the agency is not concerned about floods triggering the spread of the Zika virus.

    Details on flooding deaths

    Louisiana Floods Amite City Louisiana August 13 2016
    Louisiana flooding sweeps away man's home
    01:12 - Source: CNN

    Six people died in East Baton Rouge Parish, the mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said. Among them, a woman who was found dead inside a flooded vehicle. She was seen Saturday night attempting to turn around in high water when her vehicle was swept away.

    The Louisiana Department of Health reported a flood-related death in Tangipahoa Parish.

    Two people died in St. Helena Parish, Lisa Ballard with the sheriff’s office said. The body of a 30-year-old woman was found Saturday afternoon after the vehicle she was was riding in was swept away. And Samuel Muse, 54, of Greensburg died Friday after floodwaters swept his vehicle off the road, CNN affiliate WAFB reported.

    A 68-year-old man drowned after slipping and falling in floodwaters.

    ‘She just breaks down and cries’

    Neighbors Brad Jacobs and Erik Lang surveyed the mess caused by floodwaters surrounding their homes. Shoes, children’s toys and household items floated through knee-deep water.

    Neighbors Brad Jacobs and Erik Lang woke up to survey the mess caused by floodwaters surrounding their homes. Shoes, children’s toys and household items floated through knee-deep water on Monday.

    With their homes largely intact, some of their neighbors consider themselves lucky, too.

    “We’re praying it stops where it is,” said Kelly’s neighbor, Jenny Ragland, whose home on a ridge was spared similar damage.

    Toni Denova says she hopes to save her family photos.

    Neighbor Toni Denova just bought new furniture, but she’s not worried about it. All she wants is to preserve her family photographs against the rising floodwater.

    Neighbor Toni Denova just bought new furniture, but she’s not worried about it. All she wants is to preserve her family photographs against the rising floodwater.

    “I have a boxful of pictures in my garage that I hope get saved. That’s all I really care about,” she said.

    May, who fled to an emergency shelter with her six children, has no idea what to expect when she gets home. She’s just trying to help her kids cope.

    “My oldest, she just breaks down and cries,” she said. “But I’m there with her to let her know everything’s going to be OK.”

    Rosa Flores, Boris Sanchez and Kevin Conlon reported from Baton Rouge; Emanuella Grinberg and Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Thom Patterson, Joe Sutton and Keith Allen contributed to this report.