Baton Rouge, Louisiana is struggling with historic deadly flooding, which has caused the deaths of at least eight people, and according to Huffington Post, the emergency response system is strained and overwhelmed. Shelters are at capacity, causing some evacuees to be turned away and some to sleep on shelter floors. Emergency responders are stretched thin in rescue efforts, and the 911 system has been unresponsive at times due to phone line issues.
Over 21 inches of rain has fallen on Livingston Parish in less than 24 hours, adding to rain totals that have fallen since last Friday. The excessive rain has caused mass evacuations in and around Baton Rouge with emergency workers rescuing nearly 20,000 people from floodwaters. Thousands of residents are crowding shelters with nearly 3,000 people being housed at Celtic Studios, a movie studio in Baton Rouge. Even the Salvation Army shelter had to be evacuated due to six feet of water entering the building. Evacuees are being moved from one location to another as the flooding continues to effect more and more shelters.
High waters have also trapped drivers on Interstate 12 and parts of the Interstate have been shut down. Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a State of Emergency for the area last Friday, and on Sunday, President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa Parishes.
Damage in the area is devastating. Authorities estimate that approximately 80 percent of the over 54,000 homes in Livingston Parish will be a total loss. As the waters recede, emergency crews will be going from house to house to determine any additional loss of life or damage.