Livingston Parish, Louisiana — The catastrophic flooding of southern Louisiana in August 2016 has been called the “worst natural disaster” to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The initial damage assessment is $30 million, but this number is steadily rising as FEMA officials begin to get a better idea of all the damaged areas in the region. Here are the 5 Fast Facts of what we know so far:
1Over 7 Trillion Gallons of Water Fell in Louisiana and Mississippi
Torrential storms throughout south-central Louisiana and southern Mississippi has led to over 7 trillion gallons of rainfall, making it one of worst disasters of its kind. Days of rainfall throughout several days in August, resulting in four times the average amount of rain for that month.
Areas throughout the state would see massive amounts of rainfall in just a short time period, with some areas receiving around 15″ in just 48 hours, while other areas had as much as 31″ in some of the worst affected areas.
2It Has Been Deemed a Major Disaster Due to the Large Areas Affected
One of the biggest problems with the excessive rainfall was that it affected a massive area throughout most of south Louisiana and areas of Mississippi.
Ken Graham, the meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service’s New Orleans and Baton Rouge office said that “What made this so disastrous is the large area,” commenting on how the 11,000 square miles of the worst affected area was like nothing he had seen before.
“Normally you would see some small pockets with these kinds of rainfall totals, but this is the largest area of this kind of rainfall I’ve seen in my career.”
3Monumental Damage Has Occurred Throughout the State
Towns in the worst affected areas have received substantial damage from the flooding, with areas along the Amite River amongst these areas – the rising water levels caused many river’s banks to burst and overflow.
East Baton Rouge is also thought to one of the worst hit areas in the entire state. While the cost of such widespread flooding has yet to be accurately measured, some estimation for the agricultural damage alone could be $110 million.
Anywhere between 40,000 and 60,000 homes have been damaged by the flooding too, along with countless other buildings and vehicles, so the total costs of the damage are expected to soar.
4At Least 13 People Have Died
As if the damage sustained to the towns and communities wasn’t enough, there has been 13 recorded deaths as a result of the flooding so far, although that number could certainly increase. Many of the affected areas have just saw the water levels begin to subside, so searches for survivors is on-going.
Around 30,000 people had to evacuate their homes, with many requiring rescue boats to escape the floods while others were forced to seek shelter elsewhere until the waters receded.
5Requests for Aid and Volunteers Has Been Made as the Recovery Process Begins
After declaring the event a major disaster, President Obama allowed for access to federal funding for some of the worst affected areas such as East Baton Rouge and Livingstone, and Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards has praised the federal government for its quick response and aid.
Thousands remain in shelters and many others cannot gain access to similar accommodation, with those seeking aid being told the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would aid with the payment of hotel costs. A disaster food stamp program is also being established. According to FEMA, over 90,000 have registered for disaster assistance, and more than $3.7 million has been approved.
Governor Edwards has requested further aid and volunteers to help with the recovery of the floods, saying:
“we really need help”
With such extensive damage to so many homes and businesses, Edwards admitted that many areas are still in dire need of aid, pleading for volunteers to help and for donations to be made.
“Typically by this point in a storm, I think Red Cross would be receiving a lot more donations; I think there would be more volunteers signing up,” Edwards said. “It would be very helpful for people to donate to the Red Cross, to the Baton Rouge area foundation, and also to come in and volunteer to help people get back into their homes as quickly as possible.”