CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Severe weather hit Southwest Louisiana Saturday night, but south Cameron Parish was hit quite a bit harder.
Residents from Rutherford Beach to Sabine Pass woke up around 2 a.m. Sunday to thunderstorms and flooding.
Many residents said it was something they've never seen before, at least outside of a hurricane.
It was a storm surge without the tropical storm, an occurrence so rare that there is not a name for it.
In a matter of minutes, the land was covered by water. RVs were knocked off their blocks, fences and AC units were tossed around the landscape. Authorities shut down La. 82 due to the high water and debris.
Andy Patrick with the National Weather Service called the weather phenomenon extremely rare.
"We have not seen this very often, maybe a few times over the past decade or so," Patrick said.
Water rushed up along the coast within a matter of 30 minutes, with a maximum water level of just under six feet.
"He opened the door and it was like the Gulf of Mexico was in my front yard," said Joella Bott, who witnessed the storm along with her husband Mike from their Holly Beach home.
Patrick explained that most coastal flooding is slow and rises in a matter of six to 12 hours, not minutes like Sunday morning.
"When I opened the door, the water was rushing by so fast you couldn't even walk in it," Mike Bott said. "There was no land to be seen within seconds I . was terrified. Grown man was terrified. I had no idea what to do."
Patrick said he isn't sure how to label what happened. He calls it a coastal flood event that caused more damage than seen in the past.
"Intense winds come about from these thunderstorms at times and that probably was a contributory factor as to why the water levels took such an intense rise in such a short period of time," Patrick said.