News for Monday 082216
By Dave Graichen
The total value of all the homes lost in the flood in the Baton Rouge area could be up to $21 billion. That’s according to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s preliminary analysis of flood damage, which estimates 31% of homes in the 9 parish region are in flooded areas. BRAC CEO Adam Knapp says the preliminary data demonstrates just how devastating this flood is.
The analysis also found 87-percent of homes in Livingston parish are in areas that flooded.
The governor’s office says 102-thousand people have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance. And FEMA has provided 30-million dollars in aid for homeowners who suffered flood damage. Governor Edwards says FEMA has agreed to pay for hotel rooms for those storm victims who are living in their cars, hotels, their workplace or shelters.
The Department of Children and Family Services has begun distributing disaster food stamp cards in eight parishes. Those parishes are East Feliciana, Iberia, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tangipahoa and Vermilion. State officials are advising residents to pre-register at D-C-F-S-dot-la-dot-gov-slash-preregister.
Volunteers from around the country have come to Louisiana to offer assistance to flood victims trying to rebuild their homes. Samaritan’s Purse, a volunteer group out of North Carolina, has set up disaster relief units in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Spokesperson Todd Taylor says if you are in need of help or want to donate your time, visit Samartianspurse.org Taylor says the organization will be in Baton Rouge for 12 weeks and 10 weeks in Lafayette and they need more volunteers. He says currently, the group is focusing on cleanup.
Today the city of Walker begins putting together its lawsuit against the state for the construction of I-12. City officials believe the concrete wall that separates the east and west bound lanes worsened the flooding in the city. Mayor Rick Ramsey says when the interstate was widened to six lanes, the median was taken out and replaced with a concrete wall.
Ramsey says areas that have never flooded before took on three to five feet of water. He says he believes without that wall, the flooding wouldn’t have been nearly as bad. He says they were prepared for a major flood, but not this.
The National Guard is distributing water, MREs and other necessary supplies for the flood victims. Sgt. First Class Travis Jenkins says this effort it to make sure people affected can get through to the next phase of their recovery. He says all the Guardsmen are happy to help those in need.
State officials hope to get more financial help from the federal government to pay for flood relief efforts throughout south Louisiana. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the state has already spent at least $12.5 million, and that number is expected to grow exponentially. He says right now the feds will reimburse Louisiana for 75-percent of that, but he hopes for more federal dollars. The 75-percent reimbursement comes automatically with the declaration of a federal disaster area. Dardenne says it will take an act of Congress to get to the 90-10 split.
Frustrations are growing in Walker in Livingston Parish over the lack of federal resources to help those affected by the historic flooding. Mayor Rick Ramsey says they’ve been told by FEMA that no temporary housing will be brought in for residents. He says FEMA will try to expedite disaster payments to victims, but that isn’t enough. Ramsey says his most recent update states there is no intention of bringing in FEMA trailers or providing temporary housing.
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump met with flood victims and local officials in both East Baton Rouge and Ascension Parishes Friday. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser was with Trump and Nungesser hopes Trump’s visit can help raise awareness around the nation that many are suffering. President Barack Obama plans to visit Baton Rouge tomorrow.