The Latest: Divers find body in flooded vehicle

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) " The Latest on flooding in the Deep South (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

Officials say they have recovered the body of a woman from inside a flooded vehicle.

Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, says witnesses say the woman was seen last night attempting to turn around in high water when her vehicle was swept away.

The woman's name will be released following family notification.

That would appear to raise the death toll from the widespread flooding to five people but officials could not be immediately reached to confirm the numbers.

Heavy rains have swollen rivers and caused widespread flooding across southern Louisiana.

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9:45 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says more than 10,000 people are in shelters and more than 20,000 people have been rescued across south Louisiana because of widespread flooding.

The governor says the Baton Rouge River Center, a major events location in the capital city's downtown, will be opened Sunday as a shelter to handle the large numbers of evacuees.

Edwards said President Barack Obama called him and said that "the people of south Louisiana are in his thoughts and prayers and the federal government will be a solid partner."

The federal government has already declared a major disaster in four parishes following widespread flooding.

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7:25 p.m.

The Louisiana governor says the federal government has declared a major disaster in the state following widespread flooding.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says in the Sunday statement that the initial federal declaration is for four parishes.

Those parishes are Tangipahoa, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge and Livingston.

Additional parishes may join the list as further damage assessments are made.

Torrential rains have caused widespread flooding in parts of southern Louisiana.

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7:05 p.m.

A spokesman says that approximately 18,000 people have been rescued so far from rising floodwaters.

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

High-water vehicles, boats and helicopters have been rescuing people and bringing them to safer areas.

Rain-swollen rivers and creeks have burst their banks, causing widespread havoc across parts of southern Louisiana.

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5 p.m.

The head of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says 56 people remain in a shelter because their homes are flooded.

Executive director Lee Smithson says he expects them to be able to return to the Wilkinson County community of Crosby on Monday to check out and begin mucking out their homes. Crosby is about 15 miles from the Mississippi River and about 60 miles from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Smithson says the shelter 15 miles away in Natchez could remain open a week or more.

He says extensive damage assessments will begin Monday morning.

He says a swift water rescue team from Gulfport is in Louisiana to help with rescues, and two Mississippi National Guard helicopter crews were about to leave in their Chinook aircraft Sunday.

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3:30 p.m.

A National Weather Service meteorologist says the low pressure system that drenched south Louisiana has moved into Texas.

But Gavin Phillips says there's still danger of fresh floods, as swollen rivers drain toward the Gulf of Mexico.

He says most of the rivers have crested, but several are still rising. Phillips says the biggest danger is in East Baton Rouge Parish and the triangle created by Interstates 55, 10 and 12, including Livingston and Ascension parishes.

He said there could be flooding later in the week when the water arrives in St. James Parish, directly south of Ascension.

Phillips says there's still a chance of thunderstorms all week, but that's normal in the summer.

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3:05 p.m.

Rescuers are taking out hundreds of pets as they go door-to-door searching for people.

Lt. Davis Madere from the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, says the first priority is always rescuing humans.

But he says he and his teams have rescued at least 100 pets since they started working Friday.

He says they've rescued cats, dogs, birds " even a gerbil.

Madere says rescuers have encountered lots of snakes while out on the water but no alligators.

He said their teams also have to be on the alert for other dangers such as submerged vehicles or fences and power lines a lot closer than they would normally be because the water is so high.

2:30 p.m.

Floods are keeping the train they call The City of New Orleans from the southern end of its north-south route between Chicago and New Orleans.

Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae (ver-NAY) Graham says buses have been carrying passengers between Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans since Saturday.

She says the Canadian National Railway owns the tracks in question and will decide when they can reopen.

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2:20 p.m.

Busloads of people who were rescued from floodwaters in Baton Rouge are arriving at a sprawling movie studio complex being transformed into a makeshift shelter.

Robert and Gwen Arceneaux endured a sleepless night after noticing floodwaters creeping into their home in a neighborhood about two miles from the Amite River that had never seen water before.

They fled out the backdoor and eventually waded through waist deep water to get to a National Guard truck.

Their most pressing concern was the medication needed for Robert, who has stage 4 lung cancer.

Hundreds of people were gathered at Celtic Media Centre. Some were seeking shelter, others looking for relatives and some were dropping off supplies. Bus after bus continued to drop off evacuees.

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2 p.m.

AT&T Wireless says that severe weather in Louisiana has damaged its equipment and halted service for some customers in the Baton Rouge area.

The company said that one of its switching centers that carries network traffic in the area was flooded, and it is working to restore service as quickly as possible.

AT&T did not have an exact measure of how many people were affected.

The company said it has technicians and other resources staged for additional restoration work as soon as damaged areas are safe to access. The trouble in Louisiana is unrelated to the outage that some customers in the Midwest experienced on Saturday.

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1 p.m.

The Salvation Army in Louisiana is evacuating people from a temporary shelter and their headquarters after floodwaters got into the building in Baton Rouge.

Captain Brett Meredith says the headquarters on Sunday now hold 6 to 7 feet of water. About 120 people had to be evacuated from there.

Meredith says about 60 people had to be moved from a temporary flood shelter at one of its buildings.

He says there's no water yet in that facility, where mostly homeless people were sheltering from the floods. But flooded streets mean people can't get in or out so they had to be evacuated by high-water trucks.

He says those rescued from headquarters included people in the drug and alcohol treatment program, homeless people, and on-site staffers.

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12:35 p.m.

The Ochsner Medical Center in Baton Rouge is evacuating some critically ill patients due to the widespread flooding in the area.

In a statement Sunday, the hospital says about 20 critically ill patients have been transferred from their O'Neal campus facility to other Ochsner facilities. An additional 20 will be transferred shortly as a precautionary measure.

The medical center says they are assessing the impact of the weather and flooding, are monitoring the water levels and in contact with local and state officials.

Floodwaters have swamped parts of the state after drenching rain earlier in the week.

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12:15 p.m.

Louisiana's governor says cellphone service outages are affecting rescuers' ability to communicate with residents asking for help " and with each other.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday that it "does present a problem."

The governor says an AT&T switching facility in the area had been knocked out by floodwaters.

In a statement the company says they are working to restore affected wireless service as quickly as possible. AT&T says they have technicians and resources ready and as soon as it's safe in affected areas, they will get to work.

The company is recommending customers text before calling and use wi-fi where it's available.

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11:45 a.m.

Family members and residents are trying to rescue people affected by floodwaters that have swamped parts of the state.

Wayne Muse has been trying to reach or contact his 86-year-old mother since Saturday night, when she told him by phone that she had two inches of water inside her apartment at a Denham Springs retirement home.

He ran into a police roadblock on Sunday morning in east Baton Rouge, where rapidly rising water is flooding neighborhoods near the juncture of the swollen Amite and Comite rivers.

Baton Rouge resident Jeffrey Yglesias came out to help with his 22-foot boat. He said he has Stage 4 cancer but he felt like he had to help.

Yglesias said he was seeing flooding in places that had never flooded before.

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11:25 a.m.

A government official says that 5,050 people are currently staying in shelters due to the widespread flooding that has struck the state.

The Department of Children & Family Services Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said Sunday that the people have been staying at government and Red Cross shelters.

Gov. John Bel Edwards also said that more people are staying in private shelters like churches.

Walters said the Red Cross is also looking for volunteers.

Wide swathes of the state have been hit by historic levels of flooding.

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11:05 a.m.

Louisiana's governor says at least 7,000 people have been rescued so far due to widespread flooding in the state.

Gov. John Bel Edwards emphasized Sunday that the rain-caused flooding was "not over."

He says the fatalities have not risen from the three dead reported on Saturday. One person is unaccounted for in St. Helena Parish.

Edwards says the storm has "subsided in its intensity" but he is encouraging people to not go out and "sightsee" even as the weather gets better.

The governor says water is continuing to rise in some areas even though the sunshine is out.

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9:20 a.m.

In southwest Louisiana, the Mermentau (MER-men-tow) River is expected to rise 3 feet or more above the levees in Lake Arthur, a city of about 2,700. Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff Ivy Woods is advising residents to pack up and get out before Tuesday.

He says that during the area's last major flood, in 2013, the river was 8 feet high and at the top of the levee. He says the current prediction is for a crest Monday evening or night at 11 to 12 feet.

Woods says that by midmorning Sunday, about 10 people had called and asked for a ride out because of high water in the streets.

KPLC-TV reports (KPLC http://bit.ly/2bqMZLg) that the mayor of Welsh advised people in low-lying areas along Lacassine (lak-uh-SEEN) Bayou to evacuate.

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9 a.m.

Widespread flooding in Louisiana has stranded motorists for nearly a day on Interstate 12.

Alex Cobb of Baton Rouge says she has been stuck since around 11 a.m. Saturday.

Reached by telephone Sunday, she said she was on her way to a bridal shower she was supposed to be hosting on Saturday when flooding closed off the highway.

She said she had food from the bridal shower that she was able to eat and a produce truck about a mile up the road opened its doors and shared its stock with the stranded motorists.

Cobb said some of the people stranded on the highway were actually fleeing flooding in their homes when they got caught on the freeway.

The mood is surprisingly upbeat but she emphasized that people "want water."

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8 a.m.

Emergency crews worked through the night to rescue scores of Louisiana residents from homes and stranded cars as floodwaters continued to inundate large swaths of the Baton Rouge region.

Mike Steele of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said Sunday morning that there was an overnight spike in flood rescues in eastern Baton Rouge. He said two nursing homes in that area were being evacuated.

Police also were rescuing people from dozens of cars that were stranded on Interstate 12, which was closed from Baton Rouge to Tangipahoa Parish.

Steele says the flooding that started Friday has damaged more than 1,000 homes in East Baton Rouge Parish, more than 1,000 homes in Livingston Parish and hundreds more in St. Helena and Tangipahoa parishes.

At least three deaths have been blamed on the flooding.

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1:49 a.m.

Emergency crews plucked motorists from stranded cars in high water along a stretch of south Louisiana interstate, pulled others from inundated homes and braced for more arduous work Sunday after conducting at least 2,000 rescues.

Pounding rains swamped parts of southeast Louisiana so that whole subdivisions appeared isolated by floodwaters, which are blamed for at least three deaths.

Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, calling the floods "historic." He and his family were even forced to leave the Governor's Mansion when chest-high water filled the basement. He later toured flood-ravaged areas by helicopter and warned Louisiana residents it would be too risky to venture out even once the rains begin to subside.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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