Louisiana flood death toll increases to 11

Days of flooding in Louisiana leaves thousands of homes damaged in one of the worst floods to hit the state.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Flooded areas of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are seen from the air in August 15, 2016

Updated Aug 19, 2016

Eleven people have died in 'historic' floods in Louisiana state that have displaced thousands, Louisiana governor's office confirmed on Tuesday.

Heavy rainfall forced Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency.

Authorities declared disasters in 20 parishes while the National Weather Service issued 36 new flood warnings for southern Louisiana on Tuesday.

Governor Edwards said on Monday that Louisiana “is currently experiencing a historic flooding event that is breaking every record."

"We're seeing unprecedented flood levels as the waters move south," he said.

US President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration after speaking with Edwards, the White House said in a statement.

More than 20,000 people have been rescued or evacuated so far while 40,000 homes have been impacted, officials said.

The number of people forced to live in shelters has exceeded 8,000.

''(The flooding) continued throughout the day as waters rose extremely fast in areas that never ever flood. There was little to no warning and an area that's never seen a flood would suddenly have 4-5 feet of water," Louisiana resident John Foval told TRT World, explaining his experiences on the day of the flooding.

"We spent the day trying to figure out how to help. Everyone was out in their boats. All shapes and sizes. Trying to help save people and animals. I ended up just buying a paddleboat from a local sporting goods store and trying to do everything I could," he added.   

Foval said he was disappointed with the slow response of the national media to the crisis but is very happy with the community’s response.

"The community's response has been nothing short of amazing. People from all walks of life down here are doing anything and everything they can. Tearing apart damaged houses to get ready for repair, volunteering time and money at shelters, and some of the rescue efforts by citizens continue as the waters move to other parts of our state."

As the heavy flooding recedes rescue operations are still ongoing.

But reported looting of abandoned homes and businesses are not making the authorities’ job any easier.

"I felt this is the best way to protect our residents," said East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, adding that 10 people were arrested for looting since Monday afternoon.

This US Coast Guard handout photo shows Coast Guard personel evacuating people from a floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana/AFP

Edwards said there were still some 34,000 households and businesses without electricity in torrid summer heat and humidity.

"There are still a lot of people who are suffering," he said.

He also tweeted that more than 60,000 people have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Celebrities also tried to contribute by donations or volunteery work. American comedian and television host Ellen DeGeneres showed her solidarity to those affected by tweeting "Louisiana, I love you" while actor Eliza Dushku called on people to support residents in "tough times."

Rescue crews were searching for more victims, though the number of people missing is uncertain.

"We are going door to door," said Baton Rouge Fire Department Chief Ed Smith.

Rescue workers are also searching cars that were inundated or carried away by flood waters.

"We are going to have to search and mark each of those automobiles," the governor said.

TRTWorld and agencies