News for Monday 031416
By Dave Graichen
Yesterday morning, As floodwaters rose, the Louisiana National Guard and Department of Wildlife and Fisheries helped Grant Parish Sheriff's deputies go door to door to encourage residents to leave their homes. They first went to Lonnie's Landing, Jack's Landing and the Bob community. According to Sheriff McCain, "Many of them chose to stay." McCain is more worried about houses becoming unreachable in the case of an emergency, like a heart attack, than of water entering homes. Schools in Grant Parish are closed Today due to the fact that many residents can't leave or get back to their homes.
Sunday evening came word the control structure at Bayou Darrow in Grant Parish had been breached. Work is under way now to find a temporary solution to plug the breach. Here in Rapides Parish, the water will flow into the Rigollette area and possibly cause severe flooding with the rise of the Red River also occurring. Residents in the Rigollette area are urged to exercise extreme caution with regards to the rising water. Anyone needing temporary shelter are asked to call the Rapides Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness at 445-0391. This is a voicemail that will be monitored. Please leave your name, address and a phone number you may be reached at 24/7.
The weather system that moved slowly across the state last week dropped as much as 20 inches of rain in some areas and caused thousands of evacuations, cars and homes to go underwater, roads submerged and bridges to wash out. The Governor’s Office says reports on the number of homes with flood damage is already more than 2500, but several key parishes haven’t reported data yet so the number will go up. The governor says although they have not come up with an estimate on the damage yet, he expects it to be quite high. The entire state has been declared a state of emergency.
The Sabine River is overflowing in Vernon Parish due to water releases from Toledo Bend causing major flood damage. Vernon Parish Emergency Preparedness Director Kenneth Moore says some flood victims have lost everything, but the community is coming together to help those in need.
As the regular legislative session begins today, the state faces an 800 million dollar deficit for next fiscal year with no way to raise additional revenue. Bills to raise taxes cannot be considered in this session. Senate President John Alario hopes this is a learning experience for legislators who were unwilling to raise more revenue during the special session. Alario says as long as there is another special session before July 1st the funds could be allocated for the next fiscal year and hopefully close the gap.
As the regular session gets underway today, there are several bills up for debate that deal with higher ed reform. Alford says legislation is also on the table that seeks to get rid of the Board of Regents and other bills that would allow university management boards to raise tuition.
Alford says there are federal issues that will also be taken up on a state level like prohibiting the creation of sanctuary cities and making changes to a law that bars felons from running for office.
The regular legislative session that begins today is not all about the budget. There are several proposed bills that could impact Louisiana residents’ daily lives if they pass. One bill would require movie theaters to install metal detectors. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says theaters usually have an off-duty police officer on the premises. One proposed bill would raise the minimum wage, and another seeks equal pay for women. Dubos says these bills will be a contentious topic. Several bills have been filed relating to highway safety. One would no longer require motorcycle drivers over age 21 to wear a helmet.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and this illness has become a significant problem in Louisiana. Dr. Jordan Karlitz with the Tulane Medical Center says they’re continuing to study why there is such a high rate of colorectal cancer in Louisiana. He says it’s important for both men and women to be screened. Karlitz says although the recommended age to begin screening is 50, it is suggested that African Americans begin at age 45, because colon cancer is more common in that demographic. He says without screening, it’s difficult to tell if you could have the disease.
A state judge has sentenced a former priest in Lake Charles to two life sentences, plus 50 years for sexually abusing two altar boys in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Mark Broussard was convicted on five counts, including two counts of aggravated rape.