More than an inch of rain an hour was falling in south Louisiana, and the New Orleans airport recorded more than 7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period that ended Tuesday morning. As of 6 p.m., the airport in suburban New Orleans had received 25.73 inches of rain for the month, said meteorologist Phil Grigsby of the National Weather Service.
Heavy rains were still hitting the area at midday and weren't expected to end until the afternoon. Another storm was expected Thursday.
In Lafourche Parish, La., reports of homes flooding prompted officials to open an emergency shelter.
In St. Charles Parish, where public schools were closed Tuesday because of standing water on roads, a section of a small levee in the town of Boutte was overtopped, according to public information officer Renee Allemand Simpson, who said workers were called in to place sandbags in the area.
Mia Majoria Bell, a resident of nearby Luling, said street flooding prevented many employees from getting to work at her family's grocery store in Boutte.
"My friend has 8 inches of water in her house," Bell said. "This is the highest we've seen water get back here. It's awful."
Parts of southwest Alabama got up to 10 inches of rain in just a few hours.
Flash flood watches were in effect across the region. A handful of roads were closed and schools were closed in some counties because water on the roads made conditions too hazardous for school buses to get through.
In Atmore, Ala., near the Florida line, flood waters swept a woman from her vehicle, and three people who tried to rescue her wound up in trouble, too. Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said rescuers had to ferry the four to safety on a personal watercraft.
Store owners worked to salvage merchandise and keep more water from entering their businesses in nearby Brewton, where a swollen creek flooded parts of downtown.
Residents were surprised by the speed of the rising water.
"I have only lived her two years," said Mary Brown. "And all this is new to me. It's a stunning thing how quickly this happened."
Some places were also dealing with power outages.