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More Than 40,000 Baton Rouge Homes Await Repair After Floods


Raymond Lieteau takes photos his flood-damaged home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Aug. 16, 2016. Lieteau had more than five feet of water in his home.

Raymond Lieteau takes photos his flood-damaged home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Aug. 16, 2016. Lieteau had more than five feet of water in his home.

The death toll rose to 11 Wednesday as Louisiana's capital continues to reel from unprecedented flooding.

More than 40,000 homes have been damaged following a weekend of record-breaking rainfall in Baton Rouge. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and volunteers have been on the ground for a few days, as have Red Cross volunteers.

"It's safe to say that the state in general is very accustomed to hurricanes," Craig Cooper of the Red Cross told VOA. "But this was a massive rain incident and what we've learned is that in many, many areas these were communities that have either never been flooded or they have to remember back 30 years."

Cooper warned that the situation in Baton Rouge is still "a rapidly evolving situation" as parishes continue to be added to the list of federal emergency areas, damage is assessed and the death toll climbs.

FILE - Richard Rossi and his 4-year-old great grandson, Justice, wade through water in search of higher ground after their home took in water in St. Amant, Louisiana, Aug. 15, 2016

FILE - Richard Rossi and his 4-year-old great grandson, Justice, wade through water in search of higher ground after their home took in water in St. Amant, Louisiana, Aug. 15, 2016

"In many places, flood waters have receded," he said. "Initially, from a logistical standard, what that means is the relief operations can move more freely — the vehicles that will bring supplies into the Baton Rouge area, they can use the interstate system."

More than 30,000 people have been rescued since Friday.

Most of those rescues were made by the National Guard and state authorities, but city residents with boats, trucks and kayaks have taken it upon themselves to help out.

"A tremendous response by the people of Louisiana taking care of their own," Governor John Bel Edwards said Tuesday.

"It's wonderful to see — it's very gratifying," Cooper said. "The Red Cross is very proud of the partnerships we have with non-government organizations, as well as public agencies and things like that, but when it comes down to it, it's people helping people at every level."

FILE - Three men prepare to kayak down their street to help out those in need, as well as find food and other supplies. (Photo courtesy of Abby TerHaar)

FILE - Three men prepare to kayak down their street to help out those in need, as well as find food and other supplies. (Photo courtesy of Abby TerHaar)

In addition, Cooper noted, people from around the country have traveled to Baton Rouge to volunteer for the Red Cross.

The vast physical and emotional damage caused by the floods has lent itself to looters and scams. A curfew was imposed in East Baton Rouge from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday following reports of looting.

Additionally, Edwards warned residents Tuesday that FEMA employees do not ask for payment for services, and to be wary of scams.

The list of affected areas of Baton Rouge approved for federal emergency funding has been growing since Sunday. More than 70,000 people have registered for individual assistance under the federal disaster declaration, the White House said Wednesday.

VOA’s Ira Mellman contributed to this report.

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