Heavy rain in Louisiana floods dozens of homes

Wednesday, May 14th 2008, 9:39 pm
By: News 9

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) -- Record-setting rains flooded dozens of homes and closed roads in northwestern Louisiana, and the misery could rise along with the water as another round of storms approached Wednesday, authorities said.

Beginning late Tuesday, more than 10 inches of rain deluged the Shreveport area, nearly half fell in one hour, flooding at least 90 homes, officials said.

Shreveport's drainage system was functioning but was inundated by the amount of rain, said Mike Strong, city director of operational services.

Numerous roads were closed in the region, along with the gates at Barksdale Air Force Base. Deputies checked houses for stranded residents in the southern part of Caddo Parish, where floods cut off normal street access.

The National Weather Service said the 4.43 inches that fell in one hour broke a record of 3.16 inches.

With another round of storms accompanied by high water expected Wednesday, public schools closed at midday. Both Caddo and Bossier parishes were under a flash flood watch until Thursday morning.

A water main broke in Shreveport, and it was repaired, but a boil advisory remains in effect until water-quality tests are done.

At the height of the storm, about 18,000 customers of Southwestern Electric Power Co. lost power because of limbs and trees that fell on utility lines.

Meanwhile, President Bush issued a major-disaster declaration Wednesday for the county that includes Picher, Okla., a polluted community where several residents died as a tornado tore through over the weekend.

The declaration means Ottawa County residents affected by the storm will be able to receive individual assistance, including grants for temporary housing and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.

Because the former mining town is in a Superfund site, residents there will not be able to rebuild in Picher.

The Environmental Protection Agency is testing the air to see whether it became tainted with lead when the tornado scattered mine waste. Agency spokeswoman Tressa Tillman said Wednesday that preliminary tests showed particulate levels weren't high enough to raise health concerns.

© 2008 The Associated Press.