11 die in Louisiana floods
THE death toll from historic flooding in Louisiana climbed to 11 as the expanding flood zone prompted authorities to declare disasters in 20 parishes of the southeastern American state.
While flooding receded in parts of southern Louisiana, other areas saw rising waters. The National Weather Service issued renewed flood warnings.
“We’re seeing unprecedented flood levels as the waters move south,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said at a news conference on August 16.
Officials said 40,000 homes have been impacted by the floods and more than 10,000 people were in shelters.
More than 20,000 have been rescued or evacuated, they said.
Twenty parishes – similar to counties in other states – were declared emergency disaster areas, up from four on August 15 and 12 earlier on August 16.
The designation frees up federal money to aid with rescue operations and emergency housing, among other things.
“We’re just now moving into recovery phase. We’re still rescuing in the southern part of the parish,” said Layton Ricks, the president of Livingston Parish – more than 75 percent of which was affected by flooding.
There were reports of looting in areas where homes and businesses were abandoned by fleeing residents.
Ordinary citizens in small boats – who in the last few days have earned the title “Cajun navy” – appeared to outnumber formal rescue crews.
Among them were John Booth and Austin Tupper of Baton Rouge. The two men in their 20s had travelled 32 kilometres southeast to the hard-hit town of Gonzales, where they were using their private boat to help residents evacuate. –