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1 dead, dozens rescued as historic flooding devastates Louisiana

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BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Friday for the entire state of Louisiana as a result of severe flooding.

The declaration is in effect until Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016.

“We are in constant contact with local officials and first responders, and assistance is already on the move to affected parishes,” said Gov. Edwards. “The most important thing to remember is to obey road signs and to constantly monitor the news for updates to ensure everyone’s safety. Every available resource will be used to assist citizens as this situation continues to unfold."

A spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office said one man died Friday after slipping into a flooded ditch near the city of Zachary. Casey Rayborn Hicks identified the victim as 68-year-old William Mayfield. His body was found around noon Friday.

Dr. William "Beau" Clark, the parish coroner, ruled the death "an accidental drowning."

Mike Steele, a spokesman for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said requests were coming in for high-water vehicles, boats and sandbags. Tangipahoa Parish in the state alone requested tens of thousands of sandbags.

The Comite River near Baton Rouge and Amite River near Denham Springs, both in Louisiana, were predicted to set record crests over the weekend. Forecaster Alek Krautmann said both rivers could flood many houses in suburban areas near Baton Rouge.

He also said that flooding downstream in Ascension Parish is a threat, as those swollen rivers will be slow to drain into Lake Maurepas.

The Tickfaw River, just south of the Mississippi state line in Liverpool, Louisiana, was already at the highest level ever recorded at 9 a.m. Friday.

Rescuers were still plucking people from floodwaters in Amite and Wilkinson counties in southwest Mississippi.

48-hour rain totals in southeast Louisiana exceed 25 inches in a few communities, surpassing what some towns here in Tennessee Valley have picked up all year. There is a large area of 12-20 inch rain totals in the last two days stretching from the Florida Parishes southwest to Marsh Island.

A flash flood watch remains in effect for the area through Sunday morning.

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