Floods kill at least 3 in southern US as heat wave bakes East Coast

AFP , Saturday 13 Aug 2016

US Floods
Getting out ahead of the flood, Michael Tramonte and Nikki Conger clear their possessions from their house on Watters Road, south of Hwy. 22 and east of Pontchatoula, La., ahead of the coming flooding Tangipahoa River as storms pound Tangipahoa Parish, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 (Photo: AP)

Torrential rains causing flooding in parts of the southern United States have killed at least three people, US media reported Saturday, as millions of Americans on the East Coast sweat through soaring temperatures and stifling humidity.

Flooding in parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi shut down many roads on Friday, prompting numerous rescues and cutting off at least one town as an area of low pressure slowly moved west along the Gulf Coast.

Rivers and streams were out of their banks on Friday, the National Weather Service said.

The floods killed at least three people on Friday, local media reported. Among them, a man in the Louisiana town of Zachary, near the capital Baton Rouge, drowned trying to escape flood waters, local television station WAFB reported.

"We were walking out and he slipped and fell," his roommate Vernon Drummond told the station. "He went under the water. We tried to save him, but we couldn't."

The area recorded 10 to 15 inches (25.4 to 38.1 cm) of rain, David Roth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told AFP. Another 10 inches were expected in parts of Louisiana over the next two days.

"Even for them it's very unusual," Roth said.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and planned to hold a news conference Saturday morning after meeting with emergency officials.

"We are in constant contact with local officials and first responders, and assistance is already on the move to affected parishes," he said in a press release.

Layton Ricks, president of Livingston parish in the Baton Rouge area, told reporters that "we're experiencing one of the worst storm events we've ever had, with flash flooding."

He said roads that had never flooded were under water, and that the backlog of people waiting to be rescued was as long as 150, even after more than a thousand rescue operations had been carried out so far.

The National Weather Service warned of "significant flash flooding" through the weekend as the weather pattern moves north.

"A low- to mid-level cyclone over the Lower Mississippi Valley will slowly begin to lift northward into the Middle Mississippi Valley by Sunday evening into Monday," it said.

Entergy Louisiana said more than 7,500 customers were without power Friday night.

On the East Coast, meanwhile, residents are spending the weekend hot under the collar amid excessive weather warnings in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

The combination of heat and humidity would make it feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in those cities.

Temperatures would stay in the mid 90s from Friday through Sunday, with the humidity pushing heat index values higher in New York and Philadelphia, home to around 10 million people combined, meteorologists said.

The authorities warned of heat-related health problems, especially for the elderly and those with chronic health problems, and for people who work outdoors.

Americans were advised to stay inside and use air conditioning where possible, check on vulnerable friends and neighbors, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and not leave children or pets unattended in vehicles.

Overall, the heat wave stretched from southwest Ohio to western Virginia and Washington, and north through Philadelphia, New York and Boston, the National Weather Service's Roth said.

Forecasters predicted possible record highs in spots stretching from Maryland's Ocean City to Connecticut on Saturday, before the heat fades Sunday and Monday.

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