Louisiana assesses flood damage as
residents return to soaked homes
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[August 18, 2016]
By Sam Karlin
GONZALES, La. (Reuters) - Ron Allen set out
electric fans at his rental property in southeastern Louisiana on
Wednesday, hoping to dry floors that had been swamped by nearly a foot
"We've got to pull out the wood, pull out the vinyl. But first we gotta
get the water out," said Allen, 66. "This has never happened before."
Record floods have been blamed for at least 13 deaths and damage to
about 40,000 homes. Authorities have only begun assessing the
Rains that started last Thursday have dumped more than 2-1/2 feet (0.76
meters) of water on parts of Louisiana.
The American Red Cross has called the flooding the worst disaster in the
United States since Super Storm Sandy hit the U.S. East Coast in 2012.
ďThousands of people in Louisiana have lost everything they own and need
our help now,Ē Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster services
operations and logistics for the Red Cross, said in a statement.
As of Wednesday afternoon, shelters across the state were housing 5,435
people, according to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a Louisiana disaster declaration on
Sunday and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts.
The White House said on Wednesday that Obama had directed the Federal
Emergency Management Agency to "utilize all resources available" in
responding to the flooding.
Swollen creeks and bayous were still overflowing on Wednesday in
downstream communities such as Gonzales, as recovery efforts were
beginning around Baton Rouge.
In Livingston Parish, east of Baton Rouge, at least 75 percent of homes
were flooded, the sheriff's office said on Facebook. The parish includes
Denham Springs, where about 90 percent of the homes and every local
school took in water, Mayor Gerard Landry told local radio station Talk
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Marilyn Mays drains water from dishes in the dining room of her
mother's home after heavy rains led to flooding in Denham Springs,
Louisiana, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Edmund D. Fountain
Landry said he thought it could take two to three months to reopen
"These folks that have flooded, they donít have shoes. They donít
have underwear. They donít have shirts. They donít have toilet
paper," he said in the radio interview on Wednesday. "All the basic
essential needs, they donít have."
For Terry Lyon, 56, the devastation was all too familiar. His
trailer was destroyed 11 years ago in Hurricane Katrina, which
struck the U.S Gulf Coast and left more than 1,800 people dead.
Lyon's apartment in Baton Rouge flooded on Saturday, and he and his
wife drove to stay with relatives on dry ground in Ascension Parish.
By Monday evening, many there were underwater.
"I've never seen water come up like this and come after us," said
Lyon, standing outside a shelter in Gonzales, Louisiana. "I never
dreamed it could get this bad."
(Reporting by Sam Karlin; Additional reporting by Bryn Stole in
Baton Rouge, La.; Writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by Tom Brown,
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