Louisiana flooding the worse natural disaster in the US since Superstorm Sandy in 2012

Published: 19 August 2016 1:15 CET

In the south-eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi in the United States of America, severe flooding has occurred after extreme humidity and a near-stationary low pressure hung over the Gulf Coast for days, dumping as much as 26 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period last week, which caused 15 area rivers to reach historic crest levels. The flooding has claimed at least 7 lives, forced more than 12,000 people to seek shelter in collective centres and more than 20,000 people necessitated rescue from the floodwaters. The governor of Louisiana said that the US’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin the damage assessment process once the response phase has ended; however, preliminary reports indicate that damages could exceed USD$10 million and an estimated 10,000 homes have been damaged.

To date, 18 parishes have declared emergencies and three more were in the process of doing so. Additionally, Louisiana’s governor declared a state of emergency last Friday, 12 August 2016, which will remain in effect until 10 September. On Sunday, 14 August 2016, the governor asked President Barack Obama to declare the flooding a major disaster in order to grant Louisiana access to federal funding. Obama later signed a disaster declaration for New Orleans on Sunday, making federal funding available to the hardest hit parishes of East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa; the governor of Louisiana stated that more parishes would be added to the declaration on a rolling basis and that the federal funding would help with home repairs, cover the costs of temporary housing and offset property losses.

The American Red Cross is helping thousands of people in Louisiana affected by devastating flooding, likely the worst natural disaster in the US since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. On Sunday night, more than 10,600 people sought refuge in nearly 50 Red Cross and community shelters in Louisiana. Many local Red Cross volunteers have also been affected by the flooding and hundreds of community members are being trained right now to support their neighbours. An additional 500 Red Cross disaster volunteers from all over the country are on their way to help in Louisiana. The Red Cross has also mobilized 60 disaster response vehicles, 40,000 ready-to-eat meals and more than two dozen trailer loads of shelter and kitchen supplies.