Gulf Coast Hit By Torrential Rains, 'Life-Threatening' Floods

Historic Flooding in Southern U.S., People Rescued From Rooftops and Trees 2:22

Torrential rains and flash floods lashed the Gulf Coast again on Friday — part of a wave of wicked weather that has already killed at least five people across the South.

Flash-flood watches remained in effect for much of Louisiana and parts of southern Arkansas and Texas, with up to 5 inches of rain expected across the region, the National Weather Service said.

"This will result in additional significant and possibly life-threatening flooding," it warned. "Flooding of rivers and lakes will be an ongoing threat for the next several days and likely into next week."

The severe weather battering the South already has forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

In Louisiana, local deputies and the National Guard made a number of dramatic rescues. So did the Coast Guard, which plucked a man and his dog from a rooftop in flood Hammond, Louisiana.

More than 3,500 people have been evacuated so far and at least three people in the state have died, the governor's spokeswoman Shauna Sanford told NBC News.

Some 50 homes were evacuated in Hammond after the area received more than 10 inches of rain overnight, the National Weather Service reported. The deluge also washed away a highway bridge near New Orleans.

In Bossier City, some residents used kayaks to navigate the flooded streets.

Statewide, at least 5,000 customers were without power as of 8 a.m. (9 a.m. ET), according to power firm Entergy.

Watch Louisiana National Guard Use Helicopter to Rescue Flood Victims 0:59

So much rain has fallen along the Texas-Louisiana border that officials warned that the Sabine River could rise to a level not seen since 1884, The Weather Channel reported.

In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in order to assist areas affected by the flooding.

In the town of Seminary, some 20 miles north of Hattiesburg, five rescue workers trying to reach people stranded in a cabin had to rescued themselves after their boat flipped over. All were reported safe.

Out west in California, heavy rain was forecast in some parts of the state — part of dangerous and deadly El Niño-fueled storms that caused localized flooding in areas left dry by the historic drought.

While the rain isn't expected to dangerous, forecasters are hopeful it could signal a turnaround from a dry February that was only exacerbated by the warmer, summer-like conditions.