At least 3 dead after flooding hits rain-soaked Louisiana, Mississippi

Authorities in Louisiana say another person has died in the dangerous floods, raising the death toll to three.

More than 1,000 people rescued as heavy rains fell during a short span

Getting out ahead of the flood on Friday, Michael Tramonte and Nikki Conger clear their possessions from their house east of Pontchatoula, La. (Ted Jackson/ The Times-Picayune via AP)

Authorities in Louisiana say another person has died in the dangerous floods, raising the death toll to three.

Michael Martin, chief of operations for the St. Helena Sheriff's Office, said authorities recovered a woman's body on Saturday from the Tickfaw River.

He said the woman, her husband and the woman's mother-in-law were driving on a state highway Friday when their car was swept off the road.

The woman's husband and mother-in-law had been clinging to a tree for hours before they were rescued Saturday.

They were among more than 1,000 people who had to be rescued as heavy rains fell during a short span, surprising a lot of residents.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says flooding has reached record levels in some parts of the state following days of torrential rain.

Edwards said at a news conference Saturday that officials still don't know how bad the flooding will get and warned residents not to rely on past experience when deciding on a course of action. He said residents advised to evacuate should do so.

Edwards also advised residents to avoid unnecessary road travel.

Moderate to heavy rain continued to fall Saturday over southern Louisiana, where waist-high water in some areas has engulfed homes. The basement of the governor's mansion has also been flooded.

Mississippi and Alabama were also struggling with the effects of heavy precipitation.

The U.S. National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for southwest Louisiana until 2:15 p.m. Saturday. Forecaster Donald Jones in Lake Charles, Louisiana, said the storm system was drifting slowly west from southeast Louisiana to an area along the central Gulf coast.

Jones said 150 to 250 millimetres of rain fell over the last 24 hours and an additional 100 to 150 millimetres was possible Saturday afternoon.

Floodwaters surge from a crack in the parking lot on the corner of highways 584 and 51 in Osyka, Miss., early Friday. (Matt Williamson/Enterprise-Journal via AP)

The governor, whose own family has been relocated, declared a state of emergency on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office said one man died Friday after slipping into a flooded ditch near the city of Zachary.

A second victim was found in St. Helena Parish, where crews pulled a body from a submerged pickup truck on Louisiana Highway 10.

Numerous rivers in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi were overflowing their banks and threatening widespread flooding after extreme rainfall that began late Thursday.

Leroy Hansford, his wife and stepson were among those rescued near Gloster in southwest Mississippi.

Highest water level in decades

Hansford, 62, said waters from Beaver Creek, which is normally more than 120 metres away from his house, rose quickly overnight. He said another stepson who lives nearby alerted him.

"We woke up and the water kept on coming," Hansford said. "It came up to my waist." His wife told Hansford that it's the highest she's seen the creek in the 48 years she's lived there.

In Crosby, Mississippi, more than 50 people flooded out of a neighbourhood will be housed at a shelter in Natchez.

Wilkinson County Chancery Clerk Thomas Tolliver said an apartment complex and surrounding houses in the town were flooded after 250 millimetres of rain fell.

Weather service meteorologist Da'Vel Johnson said similar amounts of rain fell Saturday on the Alabama coast from Monday through to Friday morning.

Johnson said the storm system had mostly moved away from Alabama by Saturday.