Southeast Louisiana floods prompt rescues; at least 1 dead

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(CNN) — Heavy rains drenched parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi Friday, causing dangerous floods that killed at least one person, cut off an entire town, prompted numerous rescues and shut down highways.

In Louisiana, all seven major highway’s leading into to the town of Greensburg — near Baton Rouge — were under water and the town largely cut off, according to Michael Martin, director of operations for St. Helena Parish.

Only large National Guard vehicles have been able to get into and out of town, Martin said. At least two dozen high-water rescues had been carried out by early Friday afternoon, with stranded residents pulled from cars, rooftops and one man who sought safety on a tree.

Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards declared a state of emergency, with rainfall expected for several days.

At least one fatality was reported. A 68-year-old man drowned in Zachary, about 15 miles north of Baton Rouge, CNN affiliate WAFB reported.

“We were in the trailer just watching TV and then the water just started coming up,” Vernon Drummond, roommate of the victim, told the station.

“We were walking out and he slipped and fell. He went under the water. We tried to save him, but we couldn’t.”

On Friday morning, a school bus packed with children slid off a road in Zachary, its front end covered with water, WAFB reported. The children managed to get out via an emergency exit, according to witnesses.

Torrential rains in Louisiana and southern Mississippi caused area rivers to rise toward historic crests.

In Greenburg, crews in boats and Humvees were busy with rescues, Martin said. Several people were treated for injuries sustained when a tree fell on a car.

“It’s real bad,” Martin said of the flooding.

At least 1,300 residents were left without power in East Baton Rouge Parish, with the number rising, CNN affiliate WBRZ reported.

Schools, government offices and many businesses were closed, according to CNN affiliate

At least 1,300 residents were left without power, with the number expected to rise, CNN affiliate WBRZ reported.

In Mississippi, a flash flood watch was in effect through Saturday morning, according to the state’s emergency management agency.

Several roads were shut down in various counties and at least five people were rescued in the small town of Osyka in Pike County, CNN affiliate WJTV reported.

In March, heavy rains and storms lead to widespread floods that damaged thousands of homes in northern Louisiana.

President Barack Obama declared that a “major disaster” had hit the state, and the Louisiana’s emergency management office described the flooding as a “historic flood event.”