NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As floodwaters began receding Monday in northwest Louisiana, emergency officials along Louisiana's southeastern border with Mississippi were watching the rise of the Pearl River amid widespread flooding that has damaged thousands of homes.
The water has started to ebb from flooded subdivisions in south Bossier City on the Red River in northern Louisiana.
National Weather Service forecaster C.S. Ross in Shreveport says it will take at least a week before homeowners can get back to their homes and assess the damage. A 6-mile section of U.S. Highway 71 from Bossier Parish into Red River Parish was covered by water.
Ross said Red Chute Bayou on the east side of Bossier City did not top the levee as feared. He said there was some seepage, but not enough to reach 3,500 homes.
In Arkansas, a fast-moving weekend storm system brought rain, hail and reports of several tornadoes.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Michael Brown says as many as four possible tornadoes may have touched down amid Sunday evening's severe weather. Weather Service crews will survey the areas Monday.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service pushed back its timeline of flooding from the Pearl River at the southern end of the Louisiana-Mississippi line.
Meteorologist Robert Ricks said the river crested Monday afternoon at the Town of Pearl River at 20.3 feet but it had dropped to about 19.9 feet by 6 p.m. He said it would be another 24 hours before the river possibly encroaches on Interstate 10 or other highways.
"It remains to be seen if it will go across the interstate or not," Ricks said.
That's short of what forecaster Phil Grigsby earlier predicted the river could reach — 21 feet by late Tuesday or early Wednesday — the height of a 1983 flood. But Ricks noted the water was still rising downstream, near the cities of Slidell, Louisiana, and Pearlington, Mississippi, and could crest higher along those points.
Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Adam said he's been told to expect 5 to 7 feet of water. Adam said some 100 to 200 homes around Pearlington could take on water.
At least four deaths have been reported in Louisiana amid the flooding that began last week and the search continued for two fishermen missing since Wednesday in Mississippi.
In southeastern Louisiana, St. Tammany Parish officials said the town of Pearl River already was seeing flooding in one neighborhood.
Farther to the south, officials were warning residents in eastern Slidell to be vigilant about rising water.
Flood warnings were in effect for most of north Louisiana and scattered sections in the southern part of the state. In Mississippi, flooding warnings are in effect for areas along streams and bayous.
Louisiana emergency officials said nearly 5,000 homes were damaged. That number is expected to rise as more reports come in from areas still battling floodwaters. Mississippi reported that 185 homes were damaged by floodwaters and about 650 homes sustained minor damage.
The flood waters have caused several roads in a south Mississippi county to collapse.
Lt. Bill Davis with the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office said anyone with flood damage should report it to their parishes' homeland security office.
"Once the water goes down, cleanup kits will be made available" Davis said. "By the weekend, we should have a plan for distribution."
On Sunday, President Barack Obama signed an order declaring the flooding in Louisiana a major disaster. The president's declaration triggers federal aid for flood victims.
It's the most widespread non-hurricane flooding the Louisiana National Guard has ever dealt with, said Col. Pete Schneider, a guard spokesman.
The National Guard said it had about 1,200 soldiers and air crews at work in flooded areas throughout Louisiana, deploying in high-water vehicles, boats and three helicopters. National Guard crews had evacuated more than 4,255 people and 354 pets as part of its round-the-clock operations by Monday morning.
The Guard had also issued more than 71,570 bottles of water to Richland, Natchitoches, Vernon and Winn parishes, 576 MREs to Winn Parish and over 1 million sandbags to affected parishes.