Heavy rainfall leads to flooding

Published 9:30 am Friday, December 28, 2018

Heavy rainfall on Thursday evening and Friday morning led to widespread flooding in Washington Parish.

At 9 a.m. Friday, the Richmond Street bridge just north of the Willis Avenue intersection was closed to traffic, as was Willis Avenue from Avenue B to Columbia Street. By 10 a.m., all Bogalusa bridges were closed except for the Highway 21/North Columbia Street Bridge.

Bogalusa Police Department officials also announced several road closures in the city, including Willis Avenue to Camellia, Camellia/Pine Ridge/Rio Grande, Deborah Drive/Borgne Avenue, Austin/Okechobee streets and Fiorenza Drive/Sullivan Drive. As of press time Friday afternoon, many of these closures remained in place.

Officials said that there had been no deaths or major injuries reported, but a number of homes and businesses experienced damage.

Brent Jones of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office said that sheriff’s deputies used a boat to rescue a parish resident who was trapped in a home Friday morning. The Franklinton Police Department posted on Facebook a photo of a submerged vehicle, but noted that the driver was able to escape safely. The FPD said another vehicle was also underwater nearby, but that driver was also able to get out.

Parish President Richard N. Thomas released a statement at 7:30 a.m. Friday on the parish government Facebook page, stating:

“Myself and the emergency preparedness office have been monitoring the weather and have reports that some areas of our parish sustained anywhere from 10-13 inches of rain that caused flash flooding in the Bogalusa, Varnado and Angie area. Some of our residents had to be rescued by first responder agencies and thankfully we have no injuries to report.

“The LA DOTD website indicates five state highways in the parish remain closed due to high water. The Bogue Chitto River at Franklinton is currently at 15.12 and forecasted to continue to rise to 16 feet by noon today. My public works crews have been out assessing and closing roads that were impassable due to rising waters.

“We estimate that 30 plus roads were known to have water flowing over them from late Thursday evening to today and estimate 20-30 residents had water in their home. I ask all residents to take their time and drive with caution as some roads may still have water over them.

“We will continue to monitor and ask that if you received any damage to your home as the result of the severe weather to please call the emergency preparedness office at 985-839-0434. The office is busy so if no one is available to take your call please leave a message.”

Also, officials with the Franklinton Police Department said that the fairgrounds were underwater along the Mile Branch, and that the area was off limits to residents until conditions improved.

It is possible the parish may receive more rain over the weekend, which could lead to additional flooding. Officials ask citizens to avoid the roads as much as possible, when flooding occurs.