As water creeps closer, residents warned: Get out

KROTZ SPRINGS, La. (AP) - Deputies are warning people to get out of low-lying areas as water gushing from a floodgate for the first time in four decades creeps closer to communities in Louisiana.

Most residents heeded the warnings Sunday and headed for higher ground, even in places where there hasn't been so much as a trickle.

Days ago, many of the towns known for their Cajun culture and drawling dialect fluttered with activity as people filled sandbags and cleared out belongings. By Sunday, most were virtually empty as the water from the swollen Mississippi River started coming their way. The floodwaters could reach depths of 20 feet in the coming weeks.

The spillway's opening diverted water from heavily populated New Orleans and Baton Rouge, easing pressure on levees there to avoid potentially catastrophic floods.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)