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Southern Louisianastill under water

Search-and-rescue continued in southern Louisiana on Sunday morning in the wake of Hurricane Rita.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIM0RE | September 25, 2005

Search-and-rescue continued in southern Louisiana on Sunday morning in the wake of Hurricane Rita. About 500 people have been rescued from floodwaters in southern Louisiana alone.

Officials were worried that dozens of people may still be stranded in Vermilion Parish. Lousiana’s shorelines were hit with a 15-foot storm surge that reached 35 miles inland. Homes near the towns of Abbeville, Pecan Island and Dulac - known as part of Louisiana’s Cajun country - had nine feet of water in them. Damages were also heavy in Lake Charles, Louisiana, as well as throughout Cameron Parish. The entire town of Erath - home to 2,100 people - was under four feet of water.

Port Arthur, Texas, was also still inundated with waist-high floodwater on Sunday.

One person was killed in Belzoni, Mississippi, by a tornado that spun off the hurricane.

By Sunday morning, Rita was a tropical depression with 20-mph winds, and was moving through Arkansas. Responders were concerned about severe flooding in northern Texas, Arkansas and the Mississippi River Valley.

The U.S. Geological Survey issued an alert to state and federal agencies on the increased potential for landslides in the Ozark-Ouachita mountain regions in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma due to anticipated heavy rainfall from Rita.

Officials were still urging evacuees not to return home. But Houston residents were ignoring the plea and returning anyway.

Faith-based disaster groups were deploying trained teams to help with immediate relief. Responders also reported they were beginning to assess damages in the hardest-hit communities. Countless churches opened their doors as shelters, providing immediate relief to Rita survivors.

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