Torrential rain fell across portions of Southeastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana on Monday leading to dangerous flash flooding across the region.
Rainfall totals were between 7-14 inches and flood warnings were issued for Western Jefferson County in Texas as well as for East Baton Rouge Parish and for Eastern Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana, which includes the city of Lake Charles. The National Weather Service (NWS) described the situation as “particularly dangerous.”
By Monday evening, Lake Charles had received more than 12 inches of rain, according to the NWS, and Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a State of Emergency for the southwest of the state, according to a press release on Monday night.
NWS New Orleans said on Twitter late Monday that thunderstorms were still producing heavy rain, resulting in numerous stranded cars.
Fast-rising waters in Lake Charles
Earlier Monday, Lake Charles resident Derek Williams told CNN that the water rose so quickly that it only took 45 minutes for a car parked on the street to be completely submerged. He added that it was his neighbor’s friend’s car and that they were safe.
“The only time it’s flooded like this in the last little while was during Hurricane Delta,” said Williams. “And even then it took all day to get this high.”
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office urged residents to stay off the roads due to the threat of flooding. “Roadways and conditions are deteriorating and changing quickly,” the office said in a Facebook post.
“CPSO has deployed high water vehicles and boats on both sides of the parish and are we prepared to handle any flood related call we receive,” said Sheriff Tony Mancuso. “We are also urging residents to stay put and DO NOT travel on the roadways; driving on the roadways at this time is putting yourself in danger, along with causing damage to other residents’ property from the rising water.”
Residents of Lake Charles are still rebuilding after the damage caused by two hurricanes and an ice storm over the past year. In August, Hurricane Laura tore through the area bringing heavy winds, the equivalent of an EF-2 tornado, which caused significant damage to buildings. In October, Hurricane Delta brought torrential downfalls that caused major flooding in the city.
“We just can’t catch a break,” Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Parish Director of Homeland Security told CNN. “It remains to be seen, but we still see a lot of blue roofs around where people have not replaced their roofs, so a heavy rain event like this is devastating for those people who haven’t gotten their roofs repaired yet.”
More than 100 calls for rescue in Lake Charles
More than 100 rescue calls were made in Lake Charles on Monday, Gremillion said.
“We have people stranded around the area who are stuck in high water,” he said. “They’re not necessarily in any danger, but they can’t get from where they are to home, or to work, or wherever they’re trying to get to.”
Most of the calls are believed to be welfare checks to evacuate residents, but earlier in the day, at the height of the rainfall, rescuers helped people from vehicles that ventured too far into the water, Gremillion said.
Nearly half the roads in the parish were under some water, Gremillion said. “We have floodwaters in places that we’ve never seen flooding before,” he said.
Monday’s storm marks the third most rainfall in a single day in the city’s history and more rain fell than during either of the hurricanes in 2020.
Monday brought the city’s third-highest rainfall total on record. The highest on record was 15.79 inches, on June 19, 1947. Second highest was 15.67 inches, on May 16, 1980.
“The state has offered any help they can provide in light of the tremendous rain event today,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter posted on the city’s Facebook page. “Right now, local and state agencies are working together to bring people to safety. We continue to ask residents to stay off of the roadways unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.”
Another area resident, Lamar Pitre, told CNN he had over a foot and a half of water in his house due to flooding. He took video of the water and posted it on Instagram saying “Here we go again.”
“It last flooded for Hurricane Delta late last year,” he told CNN. “The rain started around 4 a.m. When the water started getting high, I ran outside to reuse some of the sandbags I had from those hurricanes.”
Several locations are now open around the parish where residents can pick up sandbags. The area is expected to continue to get rainfall through Monday night and over the next several days. A flash-flood watch is in effect for the area until Thursday evening.
“We’re calling in some extra help,” Gremillion said. “The National Guard and some other organizations are going to come in and reinforce us just in case we have to do this again tomorrow.”
CNN’s Dave Alsup, Taylor Ward, Jamiel Lynch and Kay Jones contributed to this report.