1-in-1,000 year rain event devastates Louisiana

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DENHAM SPRINGS, La. - Across southern Louisiana Sunday, residents scrambled to get to safety as rivers and creeks burst their banks, swollen from days of heavy rain that in some areas came close to two feet over a 48-hour period.

Sunday afternoon, Maj. Doug Cain of the Louisiana State Police said that so far 18,000 people have been rescued from East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes.

Four people have been reported dead, said Devin George, the state registrar for vital records. The death toll rose Sunday when a man's body was found washed up on a riverbank in Tangipahoa Parish.

According to data from the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, the chance of a rain event of this magnitude happening in any given year is only 0.1 percent.

The heaviest rain totals were noted from Louisiana's Florida Parishes, across the Atchafalaya Basin and south and west to Vermillion Bay.

A narrow band of 20+ inches of rain fell across East Baton Rouge Parish into northwestern Livingston Parish.

Rain amounts in this part of the state are more than 600 percent above normal for August 7-13.

Many rivers in southeast Louisiana reached all-time highest crests this weekend. The Amite River at Denham Springs hit 46.2 feet Sunday morning, shattering the previous record by more than five feet.

'Major' disaster declared

Gov. Edwards declared a state of emergency Saturday, calling the floods "unprecedented" and "historic." He and his family were even forced to leave the Governor's Mansion when chest-high water filled the basement and electricity was shut off.

Sunday evening, the governor declared a "major disaster."

"I have traveled to affected areas and have seen the destruction caused by this unprecedented flooding," said Gov. Edwards in a statement.

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