- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on Louisiana flooding (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says the severe storms that battered Louisiana are a “record-breaking flood event” that inundated places that have never flooded before.

Edwards thanked the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday for promptly acting on the state’s requests to expand the number of parishes covered by a federal disaster declaration. Edwards and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate met in Baton Rouge for a briefing on the flooding.

Mike Steele, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, says roughly 21,000 people were evacuated and between 11,000 and 12,000 homes have been damaged in Louisiana. Steele said an additional 1,200 private buildings and 13 public buildings also have been damaged.

Steele said roughly 200 people remained in shelters as of Thursday.


12:45 p.m.

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says Louisiana residents already have received approximately $2.5 million in advance payments for flood insurance claims.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate (FEW’-gate) met with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in Baton Rouge on Thursday for a briefing on the state’s response to recent record-setting flooding.

Allen, Ascension, and Calcasieu parishes were added to a federal disaster declaration Thursday, bringing the number of parishes covered to 26.

Fugate said residents whose damaged property wasn’t covered by flood insurance could be eligible for Small Business Administration loans or FEMA grants. He urged residents affected by flooding to register with FEMA.

A FEMA spokesman said about 3,600 Louisiana residents, 300 residents of Texas and 200 residents of Mississippi had filed flood insurance claims as of Thursday morning.


9:45 a.m.

Floodwaters from last week’s deluges over northwest Louisiana continue to move south as flooding concerns intensified in Red River and Natchitoches parishes.

Far south Bossier Parish — which was inundated by waters that couldn’t drain quickly into the rain-swollen Red River — remains flooded, even as areas just to the north began to dry out and evacuated residents returned home. Six feet of water remains in some areas and sheriff’s deputies delivered supplies to residents riding out the flood on Poole Road.

KTBS TV reports (https://bit.ly/1puF1H2) seven head of cattle and two horses remained stranded on the porch of a house surrounded by water. Hay was being brought to the animals.

A levee along Loggy Bayou, which forms the Bossier-Red River Parish line, has eroded because of rushing floodwaters, prompting a coordinated effort Wednesday among several agencies to make emergency repairs.


8:55 a.m.

Highway officials say flooded Interstate 10 in Southeast Texas will stay closed through the weekend.

The Texas Department of Transportation on Thursday said I-10 near Beaumont remains closed in both directions. Drivers are advised to use alternate routes because I-10 is not expected to reopen until Monday afternoon.

Thousands of Southeast Texas residents have been displaced since heavy rain last week led to flooding, especially along the Sabine (suh-BEEN’) River.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday viewed some of the devastation. Abbott has declared more than two dozen counties disaster areas, clearing the way for affected residents to seek government help.


8:10 a.m.

LSU AgCenter Extension Agent Bruce Garner says the flooding in West Carroll Parish continues to get worse instead of better.

Garner tells The News-Star (https://tnsne.ws/22njiC4) Bayou Macon and Bayou Boeuf in northeast Louisiana continue to rise and spill over into the farm fields and pasture land.

He says 800 acres of corn had been planted and it’s been under water now for 4 or 5 days.

Garner says it’s likely that will be a total loss since corn seed can’t survive much longer than 48 hours without oxygen.

Farmer Ty Rogers of West Carroll Parish says producers are looking at a loss of nearly $200 or more per acre of planted corn. This accounts for the cost of seed and fertilizer according to the third generation farmer. Rogers says he has about 500 acres of corn submerged.


7:25 a.m.

As floodwaters began to recede in the Amite River Basin and waterways farther east, officials in Livingston Parish said at least 379 homes were flooded across low-lying swaths on the eastern and western fringes of that parish, with the number likely to rise as more reports arrive.

Officials say the Amite, swollen like other Florida Parishes waterways by a storm front last week that wreaked havoc across the state, did not hit near-record highs once feared and flooding appears to have been less than it could have been.

Despite these lower-than-expected crests, Brandi Janes, deputy director of emergency preparedness, tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/22oQsh6) officials received reports of about 40 flooded homes each in Albany and Port Vincent, 70 in French Settlement and more than 225 in the Springfield area through Tuesday afternoon.


6:50 a.m.

The rising Red River is causing problems for residents in Avoyelles Parish.

The Avoyelles Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says residents in the areas of Brouillette (broo-YET’), Fifth Ward, Moncla (MON’-clah) and Vick are seeing several inches of water building near their homes.

Joey Frank, homeland security director, tells The Town Talk (https://townta.lk/1R5p14N) those areas could see a couple more feet of water before the Red River crests. He said as of Wednesday night that more than 20 families had evacuated their homes.

The American Red Cross and National Guard on standby to open shelters if needed, and sandbags are available at local fire departments.

Franks says the Red River is set to crest Sunday at 40.5 feet. That is the highest it’s been since 1942.


6:35 a.m.

While many parishes in the state look to recovery now, Sheriff Steven McCain says the disaster is far from over in Grant Parish.

McCain said Wednesday it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Late Tuesday evening, the parish was hit with another blow. McCain tells The Town Talk (https://townta.lk/1PdBtgL) Nantachie Lake between Aloha and Montgomery is rising as water, which usually flows into the Red River, is being pushed back.

The Red River is set to crest Sunday at 40.5 feet. McCain says that’s the highest crest since 1942.

Grant Parish deputies with the help of the Louisiana Army National Guard on Wednesday delivered pallets full of water bottles, buckets of cleaning supplies and towels to flood victims across the parish.

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