At least 80 people were rescued overnight after around a foot of rain fell on Lake Charles, Louisiana, flooding streets and homes eight months after it was hit by the first of two hurricanes.
Between 8 to 15 inches of rain fell on south Lake Charles, a city of around 77,000 in southwest Louisiana, on Monday, the National Weather Service said.
The parish sheriff urged people to stay off the roads, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency. Louisiana's state fire marshal said 80 rescues have been conducted, and no deaths or injuries reported. Nearly 120 miles east in Baton Rouge, rescuers also responded to 163 flood-related calls, the city's fire department said.
"In fact, when you look at these rain totals, they will meet the threshold of a 100-year event," Hunter said in a video address Monday. "And it's getting to be perhaps a little of a misnomer to call these events 100-year events, because they are happening more often."
Hunter estimated that the number of flooded homes in his city would be in the hundreds, The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge reported.
The rains are forecast to continue for days. Lake Charles and other parts of southwest Louisiana are under flash flood watch through Thursday evening, and there could also be severe weather, forecasters said.
"This is not just a one-time thing, this is something we're going to be dealing with pretty much all week," Donald Jones, meteorologist for the weather service in Lake Charles, said in a briefing.
More than a dozen tornado warnings were issued, and a couple tornadoes that touched down were confirmed, he said.
Hurricane Laura was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall near Cameron, south of Lake Charles, early Aug. 27. It was the strongest hurricane to strike southwest Louisiana since records began in 1851, according to the weather service.
Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, 12 miles east of where Laura did, on the evening of Oct. 9 as a Category 2 storm.
"I think it’s crazy. I think we’ve been through enough in the past year, and we’re seeing flooding that we didn’t even see from Delta,” Rachel Mere, who moved her vehicle to a safe spot at a Walgreens, told NBC affiliate KPLC of Lake Charles.
To the east, parts of East Baton Rogue Parish and Ascension Parish were among those under flash flood warnings and watches. Around 5 to 8 inches of rain fell there and numerous stranded cars were reported, the weather service said.
Late Monday, flash flood watches covered large parts of Texas, southern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas and most of Louisiana, according to the weather service.