News for Thursday 081816
By Dave Graichen
As many as 6,000 of flood victims are still staying in shelters and many more are taking refuge with family and friends. FEMA, the Governor and other agencies are working to develop a plan to house people currently and in the distant future. Governor John Bel Edwards says there’s a lot of information that needs to be gathered about the victims and their needs. But he says FEMA knows how to do this, so the state is, for now, following their lead.
Disaster food stamps will be available for flood victims, and pre-registration is underway at the Department of Children and Family services’ website. Sammy Guillory with DCFS says they hope to have registration sites open next week. Guillory says anyone who was affected by the flood and does not receive regular SNAP benefits can apply.
The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank says its warehouse was flooded and they lost a half million pounds of food. CEO Mike Manning says it’s difficult not to be able to feed people during these trying times.
According to the state fire marshal’s office, emergency workers discovered a man’s body in a flooded Denham Springs subdivision yesterday afternoon, which brings the flooding death toll to 12. The identity of the victim has not yet been confirmed, but investigators say the man appears to be in his 50s.
As the flood water rose, many people were fleeing to shelter. Celtic Media Studios in Baton Rouge opened their doors to thousands of people who were forced out of their homes after the devastating storm. Director of Studio Operations Patrick Mulhearn says Saturday night the population of Celtic was zero and Sunday afternoon the population was about 4-thousand people. He says there has been talk about Baton Rouge being divided but he’s never seen a more united community.
While flood waters are receding in some parishes, the Lake Arthur area in Jefferson Davis parish is still expecting more flooding this weekend and into next week. Johnathan Brazzell with the National Weather Service in Lake Charles says the Mermentau River is expected to crest at 11.5 feet by Friday, which would be the third highest crest the river has ever seen.
The massive flooding in south Louisiana now poses an increased risk for West Nile. That’s according to the State Medical Director for the Center of Community Preparedness, Dr. Frank Welch. Welch says they are going to focus on mosquito control over the next few weeks. Also, he says mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are not as prevalent in the flooded areas of the state, but the threat should not be ignored.
The water is leaving Livingston Parish for the most part, but what the flood left behind is catastrophic. Parish-wide, officials say at least 75% of homes were impacted with 2 to 8 feet of water, but that figure could easily grow as this is still very much an ongoing situation. Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry says people are coming from all over the US to help. There were between 15,000-20,000 rescues made during this event. Landry says more than 90% of homes in the Denham Springs were flooded. He says most businesses also took on water at unimaginable levels. Schools are closed in the parish til further notice.