Louisiana flooding: Estimated 60,000 homes damaged
NEW ORLEANS — The Latest on Louisiana flooding:
Louisiana officials say an estimated 60,000 homes have been damaged by massive flooding that swept through the southern part of the state.
Mike Steele, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Saturday that 102,000 people have also registered for federal assistance.
He says authorities are still assessing damage to homes and that number could fluctuate.
The state is slowly digging itself out from a massive flood that swept through last weekend.
Commissioner Jay Dardenne announced Saturday that state offices in all parishes are reopening on Monday.
In south Louisiana, homeowner Sheila Siener (SEE-ner) says flood damage to her home was worse than she’d imagined.
She says she had known that her house got four to five feet of water, but hadn’t realized how filthy and foul-smelling it would leave everything.
All up and down her street in the Ascension Parish community of Saint Amant (SANT uh-MANH), people were gutting their houses, hauling out just about everything to be carted away.
Siener says about 20 relatives and co-workers helped haul out all of her furniture, appliances, kitchen cabinets, and even the toilets.
Seiner says they included co-workers from Optimal Field Services who had driven three hours from their homes in the central Louisiana town of Pollack.
Throughout the flooded areas, search parties are going door to door looking for survivors or bodies trapped by flooding.
Louisiana’s health department says floods have damaged graves, tombs and vaults in least 15 cemeteries across seven southern parishes. However, officials don’t yet have an estimate of how many graves, tombs, and vaults have been damaged.
The department has asked affected parishes to do assessments. In most cases, the disinterred caskets and vaults are still within the territory of the cemetery, although one casket ended up in a nearby backyard.
In one case, a local funeral home has already recovered and re-interred the few caskets that surfaced.
A central Louisiana woman and her daughter have been recognized as heroes for rescuing a 4-year-old boy whose grandmother died in floods last week.
The Rapides (rap-EEDZ) Parish sheriff says the child would have died without Jennie Thacker and Jessie Kingan. Sheriff William Earl Hilton gave them the office’s first Citizens Valor Award on Friday.
Thacker says they stepped outside Aug. 14 to look at their flooded road and heard a child. They were chest-deep when they heard a cry for help.
Thacker says they saw a little boy clinging to a tree branch. She swam out to him, telling her daughter to call for help. She says his first words to her were “My grandmother’s dead.”
Sheriff’s investigators said both the boy and grandmother escaped from the car when it was swept away by the current, but the grandmother drowned.
Pumps and sandbags are keeping floodwaters out of Lake Arthur, a city of about 2,700 in southwest Louisiana — but authorities say there’s still too much danger for people to return.
Larry Lyons of the area’s drainage district tells KPLC-TV (http://bit.ly/2bBXVWe ) that, for example, an alligator crawling onto the bank could knock out sandbags.
Chief Deputy Chris Ivey of the Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff’s Office says people have been placed every 100 yards to watch for breaches in the levees.
Mayor Robbie Bertrand tells The American Press (http://bit.ly/2b69to5) that about 16,000 sandbags have been placed strategically throughout the town, and another 800 are ready.
He says that even as the Mermentau (MER-men-taw) River falls, the levees remain fragile and saturated.
Hundreds of volunteers helped build a 180-foot plywood wall at one spot to stabilize sandbag barriers.
As search parties look for survivors, Louisiana continues to dig itself out from devastating floods, with local government saying debris removal will begin Monday in much of East Baton Rouge.
Mayor Kip Holden is encouraging residents to put all flood debris on the curb during the weekend, separated by types. Plant material should be in one heap. Next to that, construction and demolition debris. Then appliances, with a fourth area for electronics.
A news release says nothing should be bagged. It notes that regular household trash should be bagged and put out in garbage carts on the regular pickup day, away from flood debris.
A news release says residents can track daily progress on a web-based map. It’s at http://gis.brla.gov/debris.
Louisiana continues to dig itself out from devastating floods.
Search parties are going door to door Saturday looking for survivors or bodies trapped by the flooding.
Teams have come from around the state as well as other parts of the country to assist in the effort.
They’ve been going house to house, knocking on doors, looking for signs of life such as furniture or carpets piled out front indicating someone has been there cleaning up.
At least 13 people died in the flooding that swept through parts of southern Louisiana after torrential rains lashed the region.
In a uniquely Louisiana problem, some families are also trying to rebury family members whose caskets were unearthed by the floods.