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40,000 homes damaged by Louisiana floods; 10 killed

  • David Key boats away from his flooded home after reviewing the damage in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

  • Mailboxes are seen just above flood water in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. As waters begin to recede in parts of Louisiana, some residents struggled to return to flood-damaged homes on foot, in cars and by boat. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)Max Becherer

  • David Key looks at water out of his master bedroom windows in his flooded home in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)Max Becherer

  • Motorists drive between flood barriers set up along Airline Highway in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. As waters begin to recede in parts of Louisiana, some residents struggled to return to flood-damaged homes on foot, in cars and by boat. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)Max Becherer

  • David Key looks at the back yard of his flooded home in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)Max Becherer

  • David Key opens the windows in his flooded home in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)Max Becherer

  • David Key arrives at his flooded home in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)Max Becherer



Associated Press
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

At least 40,000 homes were damaged and 10 people killed in the historic Louisiana floods, the governor said Tuesday, giving a stark assessment of the widespread disaster.

Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke at a news conference alongside FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, saying “well over” 20,000 people have been rescued since the flooding began Friday. His office later increased that figure to more than 30,000.

Beginning Friday, a torrent of about 2 feet of rain inundated the southern part of the state over a 48-hour period, and days later many homes and businesses were still underwater.

While some areas were entering recovery mode, the governor warned new places downstream could see flooding and officials are still in search and rescue mode.

“I don’t know if we have a good handle on the number of people who are missing,” the governor said.

Some residents returned to their flood-damaged homes and businesses for the first time Tuesday and found a soggy mess.

David Key used a small boat to get to his house in Prairieville and said it had taken on 5 inches of “muddy nasty bayou water.” There were fish and thousands of spiders. And mold has started to set in.

“I’m not going to lie, I cried uncontrollably,” he said. “But you have to push forward and make it through. Like everybody says, you still have your family.”

The extent of damage was coming into clearer view. About 40,000 people had signed up for FEMA assistance and eight more parishes were added to the federal disaster declaration, bringing the total number to 12.

In Livingston Parish, one of the hardest-hit areas with about 138,000 people, an official estimated that 75 percent of the homes were a “total loss.”

But Lori Steele, spokeswoman for the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, was upbeat, saying the rescues taking place now are less of a “life-saving nature” and more to help people who were running low on supplies in flooded areas.

As the main roads drain, emergency crews were going to be able get hot meals, water and medical supplies to the 25 shelters in the parish.

Rivers and creeks were still dangerously bloated in areas south of Baton Rouge as people filled sandbags there to protect their houses, bracing for the worst as the water worked its way south. In Ascension Parish, officials said some small towns have already been inundated.

The governor said more than 8,000 people were in shelters, but the number was constantly fluctuating as people arrive and leave.