Devastating floods have hit south Louisiana, US, with over 20,000 people already having been rescued across the four affected parishes, with the Louisiana State Police Air Support Unit, Coast Guard and Louisiana National Guard all using their air power to help. Currently there have been four known fatalities, with one person missing.
Heavy rain started to fall across the state on 12 August, on average between six and 10 in (15 to 25 cm), but with some reports claiming 17 in (40 cm) in some areas, and continued to heavily fall over the weekend. As barriers and banks broke, thousands woke to find themselves stranded. Many more were trapped by sudden flash flooding whilst out in their vehicles.
The Coast Guard reported it has rescued more than 118 people and assisted more than 766 people, while the Louisiana National Guard said it has rescued nearly 3,400 people and 400 pets altogether, though this is using its combined vehicle and personnel support, which includes five helicopters.
Most aerial rescues have involved airlifting those stranded on roofs and the top of vehicles, and taking them to safety. Helicopters have also been utilised to deliver supplies to those still stranded whilst rescues make their way to their location. Close to 96,000 bottles of water and 2,300 ready-to eat meals have been delivered over the affected areas, according to news outlet ArkLaTex.
Notably, the Coast Guard was able to airlift three people stranded on a rooftop using a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter in Baton Rouge, one of the worst hit areas, on 13 August.
Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of major disaster, and told the press that President Obama had called him to give his support. He also warned that the flooding was ‘not over’ and that citizens needed to still exercise caution.