The Latest: Louisiana closely monitoring tropical weather

AP News
|
Posted: Aug 24, 2016 6:04 PM

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on Louisiana flooding (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says officials are closely monitoring a tropical disturbance that threatens to move into the Gulf of Mexico, worried it could wreak havoc on areas of his state that are recovering from recent flooding.

The governor said FEMA and state agencies walked through scenarios last week. The exercise was aimed at preparing response plans in case a hurricane hits Louisiana while thousands of people are displaced and debris is piled up for miles around neighborhoods.

The mounds of debris, Edwards said, could become "a missile" in the strong winds of any hurricane.

But the governor said Wednesday he is "fervently praying" that a hurricane or tropical weather won't hit the state. He added: "I would appreciate other people's prayers as well."

___

4:45 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be bringing in temporary housing units for homeowners displaced by the heavy flooding in south Louisiana.

Just don't call them FEMA trailers.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday the mobile homes will be available for people who don't live in a designated flood plain to set up in their yards as they repair houses. For those in a flood zone, the mobile homes will have to be set up at trailer parks or other identified commercial property.

The governor says the mobile homes meet higher regulatory standards than the much-maligned travel trailers used after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

Homeowners with less catastrophic damage may be eligible for a "shelter at home" program providing grants up to $15,000, aimed at quickly making houses habitable. Registration for that program will begin Monday.

___

3:30 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and his family remain displaced by flooding from the Louisiana Governor's Mansion, with no return date set.

The governor was asked about the damage Wednesday during his radio call-in show.

Edwards and his family were forced to leave the mansion when chest-high water filled the basement and electricity was shut off. They're staying in a state police facility in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The governor said it was the first time the mansion had flooded — and he noted that it took the worst damage of all state buildings in the parishes hit by the storm.

Edwards told radio listeners: "We'll be out for a while." But he added that his family's displacement was nothing compared to the struggles of thousands of storm victims across south Louisiana.

___

1:45 p.m.

A Louisiana lawmaker says he's looking for ways to provide smoother sailing for the volunteer rescue boaters known collectively as the "Cajun Navy."

But ideas floated by state Sen. Jonathan Perry have met with skepticism and even anger.

Volunteers who rescued people stranded in Louisiana flooding last week sometimes complained they were turned away by authorities in some areas.

In a recent radio interview, Perry, a Republican from Kaplan, suggested legislation that would let boaters sign a waiver agreeing not to sue government agencies if they get lost or hurt. He said the legislation could also call for a rescue certification course for volunteers.

Perry says in a new Facebook video he's received complaints, and even insults, from people who have misconstrued his proposal. He did not respond to an interview request from The Associated Press.

___

12:55 p.m.

After President Obama's recent tour of flood damage, Louisiana is getting another visit from a high-ranking official in the federal government.

On Thursday, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is expected to meet with HUD-assisted residents, staff and local officials to get an update on the housing impacts of the recent flooding disaster.

The planned visit follows Obama's visit Tuesday and an earlier trip by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

Castro is scheduled to tour flood-damaged public housing properties in Denham Springs and do a meet-and-greet with HUD staff in Baton Rouge. He's also scheduled to meet with Gov. John Bel Edwards, Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden and later join Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet of the U.S. Small Business Administration for lunch with small business owners affected by the flooding.

Earlier this week, HUD deployed 24 full-time disaster recovery and housing experts to support the Federal Emergency Management Administration in providing immediate housing assistance to displaced residents.

___

11:30 a.m.

The number of people registering for federal disaster aid after Louisiana's heavy flooding continues to rise.

The state said Wednesday that the number of registrants with the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reached 119,000. More than $132 million has been approved by the federal agency in grants for temporary rental assistance, home repairs and other disaster response aid.

Meanwhile, nearly 27,000 claims have been filed with the National Flood Insurance Program, and state officials say $37 million in advance payments have been approved for flood insurance policyholders.

A storm that began Aug. 12 dumped as much as 2 feet of water in some areas within 48 hours, causing widespread damage that Gov. John Bel Edwards says impacted more than 100,000 homes.

___

7:45 a.m.

The National Weather Service says the entire Amite River in Louisiana is now below flood stage and water levels should continue to fall.

Forecaster Fred Zeigler says backwater flooding, which has contributed to widespread flooding, appears to have leveled off and is retreating in some locations of St. John the Baptist, St. James, Ascension, Iberville, East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes.

Zeigler says the Baton Rouge area could see 1 inch to 3 inches of rain Wednesday afternoon. He said forecasters would be watching the rainfall rate for a possible flash flood warning. Zeigler said the ground is saturated and the rain will have nowhere to go.

___

7:25 a.m.

As thousands of south Louisiana flood victims apply for disaster assistance, residents of two Mississippi communities have been told they are not eligible for assistance.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn tells The Natchez Democrat (http://bit.ly/2bBjDNR) the damage in Crosby and Centreville wasn't enough to meet the criteria for a federal disaster declaration.

Crosby Mayor William Hall said he's disappointed that the community isn't eligible, but he's not giving up.

Flynn said the Management Agency and the state are working on several available options to help Crosby residents.

He said the state will also use leftover funds from the Hurricane Katrina Cottage Sales program to help buy building supplies to repair houses in Amite and Wilkinson counties. Flynn says about $250,000 will be used.

___

7:16 a.m.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has issued an emergency order to speed the removal of flood debris.

The order allows mattresses, furniture and carpets to be taken to construction and demolition landfills.

Prior to this emergency order, which ends Sept. 30, these materials had to be separated from home debris to be taken to a different type of landfill that accepts household waste and garbage.

The order is in effect for the 20 parishes covered under the emergency declaration.

Department secretary Chuck Carr Brown, who oversaw debris removal during Hurricane Katrina, said in a news release that monitors will watch what goes into trucks and what gets dropped off at each landfill.