On August 12, 2016, flooding began in southern Louisiana. Ten days of heavy rain caused extreme damage to twenty parishes across the state. Residents prepared for the worst, but they could never have anticipated the disaster that lay ahead.
The Red Cross and other groups are helping to clear out the wreckage. The cost of the damage repairs is predicted to be around $8.7 billion dollars, says governor John Bel Edwards. This cost covers the destruction of over 55,000 homes and more than 6,000 businesses. Up to 80% of these buildings have not had flood insurance as they have spent 100 years outside of the usual floodplain.
A more conservative estimate predicts that there is $110 million dollars in agricultural damage. Whatever the correct total may be, wreckage and debris continue to be hauled away as civilians begin to return to their destroyed neighborhoods.
Everyone is lending a helping hand. Even President Barack Obama paid a visit to a few of the towns now in ruins. However, Obama was criticized by many of the flood victims for delaying his visit to the crisis and instead continuing his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard.
On the other hand, Governor Edwards approves of Obama’s choice to arrive days later as Obama and his entourage would require resources which would be too much of a demand in the current situation.
As of now, thirteen flood related deaths have been reported. The US Coast Guard, National Guard, local emergency responders, and even volunteer neighbors are working to help those in trouble. So far, they have rescued more than 30,000 residents and 1,400 pets. A total of more than 7,000 of the 30,000 people rescued are in emergency shelters. “I bought enough food to last for a week in case we were flooded in, but I wasn’t prepared for this much devastation,” says Jo Lee Misner, a resident of Colyell. “Local stores are running low on everything from food to fuel. It’s unbelievable what we’ve been through”, she added. “We never imaged this would happen.”
Emergency shelters still hold a lot of people and pets separated from their homes, but they should be returning soon. In New Orleans, a bus full of flood recovery volunteers collided with a fire truck leaving two passengers dead and another forty-one injured.
The water is the greatest factor in all of this. The heaviest downpour occurred over the course of two days. In that time, the rainfall measured two feet. Across Louisiana, a calculated 7.1 trillion gallons of rainwater fell in one week. This much water can and has caused catastrophic damage state wide. The flood water drainage is also predicted to be slow, taking up to a month, due to stretches of flat land. The devastation throughout Louisiana has taken a lot from people. Although recovery will be hard, with some help, Louisiana will make it through.
By Jazz Khokhar