‘Showers on steroids’: Intense rain cause street flooding, power outages in EBR
Heavy rains prompted flash flood warnings and caused power outages across portions of East Baton Rouge Parish Wednesday morning and city-parish officials warned that slow-moving afternoon rainstorms could exacerbate the hazardous conditions.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for an area that spanned from Gardere north to the greater Zachary area after rain storms dropped as much as 4.5 inches of rain in three hours. The parish will remain at a “slight risk” of flash flooding until 7:00 a.m. Thursday.
Power outages in East Baton Rouge Parish peaked around 9:30 with more than 6,000 customers without power. According to Entergy outage maps, most outages were concentrated along Perkins Road between Essen Lane and College Drive.
But the greatest risk posed by the storm came in the form of street flooding.
Mark Armstrong, Chief Communications Officer for Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, said high water forced road closures in isolated pockets along the western edge of the parish.
Some of the most significant street flooding occurred at Nicholson Drive and Burbank Drive, where a backed-up drainage canal continued to block the roadway into the afternoon, but Armstrong warned of closures along Plank Road, Choctaw Drive and Airline Highway as well.
Department of Public Works crews continue to monitor parish roadways and have erected barricades at trouble spots, but added that the hyper-localized, intense storms have made it hard to predict exactly where floodwaters would rise. Armstrong warned drivers to assume any water on the road had the potential to be dangerous, even if it was not marked.
“Our crews are out there putting up barricades at every location that they can find as quickly as they can, but sometimes it will take them a moment because they don’t have a clear path to get there,” Armstrong said.
So far, emergency responders have conducted five “high water assists” for motorists who attempted to drive through floodwaters.
“Unfortunately, these types of rain events are like miniature ‘significant events’ because they’re happening in very specific locations,” Armstrong said. “Sometimes you don’t realize it’s happening until you’re in the middle of it.”
“If you’re not paying attention it can happen out of nowhere,” he added.
The National Weather Service warned of possible street flooding throughout the region and issued separate flash flood warnings for central Iberville Parish and Pointe Coupee Parish.