- Associated Press - Thursday, January 10, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a statewide emergency Thursday after storms rolled across Louisiana, dumping huge amounts of rain and flooding some areas. The declaration lets Louisiana use state money to help local governments recover from storm damage.

A slow-moving system dumped almost a foot of rain in some areas, causing rivers to swell and creating street flooding in urban areas. No injuries were reported, though authorities suspect a tornado may have caused damage at an industrial plant near Baton Rouge.

The bad weather had moved out of Louisiana by nightfall but forecasters warned that another round of rain was likely across the state over the weekend.

“The next one doesn’t seem to be nearly as potent,” said Christopher Bannan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Slidell, north of New Orleans.

The next wave will probably start late Saturday night in north Louisiana and work through the state Sunday and Sunday night, he said.

Storms sloshed across all of Louisiana from the southwest, where rivers were at or approaching flood stage, to the northeast, where the tiny town of Clayton was swamped. Eunice, down in Cajun country, got nearly 11.2 inches of rain over the 24 hours ending at 7 a.m. Thursday. About 70 miles east, a possible tornado ripped part of the roof from an industrial plant in Plaquemine.

“I need my little floaties, honey, my little waders,” said Mayor Carol Ponthieux of Iowa, a southwest Louisiana town of 2,996 that got 9.7 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending at 7 a.m.

Water got into perhaps a dozen houses on two streets in a fairly new subdivision, she said, and rain water filled sewers so that quite a few people couldn’t flush their toilets. More than 50 but fewer than 100 households had that problem, she estimated.

The Louisiana National Guard sent a high-water truck and two soldiers each to Marksville and to Crowley, where the National Weather Service reported 9.35 inches of rain in 24 hours, and sent 50,000 empty sandbags to Livingston Parish.

Residents of about 10 houses in Crowley asked for help and more than 20 homes took on water — mostly from the wakes raised by tractor-trailers, Mayor Greg Jones said. Avoyelles Parish 911 director Donald Milligan said people in two vehicles near Marksville and a house in Mansura called for help.

Eunice Mayor Claud “Rusty” Moody didn’t know how high the water got in his streets. “I wouldn’t go out of my house,” he said.

He said some houses and about 10 to 15 apartments in one complex flooded — and, after receding, water began rising again Thursday afternoon near the complex. He said he and city workers were going out to try to find the cause, likely a clogged storm drain.

In Clayton, Mayor Rydell Turner said he carried a disabled woman through her flooded yard to the bus that takes her to work, and a waterworks maintenance worker carried about a dozen children to their school bus.

The SNF Flopam plant, which makes water-soluble polymers, reported roof damage around 7:30 a.m., Iberville Parish Emergency Preparedness officials said.

In the south, Ascension, St. James, St. John and Livingston parishes reported widespread street flooding, with minor street flooding in several other locations, said meteorologist Danielle Manning.

Southwest Louisiana was emerging from downpours that have rivers and streams across the area at or approaching flood stage. That probably will affect mostly streets along the river, where most homes are built up high enough to avoid flooding, weather service hydrologist Jonathan Brazzell said.

Minor flooding also was reported and predicted in southeast Louisiana.

By late Thursday morning the worst of the rain was over southeast Louisiana.

In Breaux Bridge, St. Martin Parish authorities said high wind tipped over a trailer, but the occupant was not injured.

Most hunting in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in St. Tammany Parish will close Friday because of high water and reopen when the river drops below 16.5 feet at Pearl River, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said Thursday. Waterfowl hunting will remain open.

Lafayette, Acadia, Iberia, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes were among those where the bad weather closed schools.

The New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course canceled races scheduled Thursday.

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