The Latest: Louisiana to reopen 3 shellfish areas

AP News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2016 8:22 PM
The Latest: Louisiana to reopen 3 shellfish areas

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

7:15 p.m.

The Louisiana Department of Health is reopening three molluscan shellfish growing areas in Vermilion and Iberia parishes 30 minutes before sunrise Friday.

The department, in a news release, said areas 26, 27 and 28 were closed last Friday because of environmental conditions related to flooding. State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry signed the order to reopen the waters Thursday, noting that water conditions have returned to within the standards set by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

The state says it has notified local oyster harvesters that work the affected areas, as well as the Louisiana Oyster Task Force and the Food and Drug Administration, that the waters are being reopened.

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4 p.m.

It's not what you want to hear in the summer in Louisiana, but the state health department says that if your house or business flooded and has mold in it, keep the air conditioner off until the mold is gone.

Officials say that will stop mold spores from spreading around the building. The department's mold removal guidance Thursday suggests turning on a window fan blowing outward to exhaust air to the outdoors.

The next step is to bag and throw out any porous articles with heavy mold. That can include ceiling tiles, Sheetrock, carpet and paneling.

The department says to use a hard brush or cleaning pad to scrub hard surfaces with detergent in hot water and rinse with hot water.

Then the area should be fully dried for two to three days. The department says raising the temperature and using dehumidifiers and fans will speed drying.

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1 p.m.

In southwest Louisiana, residents of Lake Arthur told Gov. John Bel Edwards how volunteers built a wall of sandbags that kept the city of 2,700 from going under water during recent floods.

Monica Chapman tells The Associated Press that hundreds of volunteers filled and stacked sandbags onto the levee in the pouring rain. She said Thursday that the volunteers ranged from children to old people, and came from all over the area. The effort began Aug. 13, during storms that drenched the southern part of the state.

Later, volunteers built a plywood wall to stabilize the sandbags that still top the levee along the Mermentau (MER-men-taw) River.

Volunteers also kept watch for more than a week to make sure that water seeping through the sandbags got pumped back out.

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12:10 p.m.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro says his department has helped draft language for a proposal that could help Louisiana homeowners whose houses flooded.

He was visiting public housing in Denham Springs and north Baton Rouge.

The Advocate (http://bit.ly/2bA5E9z) reports that Castro said he could not give any specifics or make any commitment about the proposal.

He was asked whether south Louisiana residents could expect a homeowners' aid package like those provided after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. He answered that HUD has given "technical assistance on drafting that kind of legislation."

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Louisiana's Department of Revenue reminds taxpayers in the 20 parishes declared flood disaster areas that they can get extensions on state taxes due in August and later.

Spokesman Byron Henderson says this applies to people whose homes, businesses, or critical tax records are in those parishes. He says they should write "South La. Flooding 2016" in black at the top of their tax returns.

Henderson says severance and excise taxes due between Aug. 11 and Oct. 31 can be paid by Nov. 15.

He says the extended deadline is Nov. 30 for withholding tax returns and remittances due between Aug. 11 and Nov. 15.

He says individual income, franchise and other income taxes and the estimated payments due between Aug. 11 and Jan. 17 can be paid by Jan. 17.

Henderson says he doesn't know how many people and businesses are eligible for the extensions.

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11:30 a.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards visited a subdivision in Youngsville, near Lafayette, where every third or fourth house still had a pile of flood debris on the lawn, and occupants were still gutting and clearing damage.

One woman told Edwards she has always paid her taxes on time, but now cannot get the help she needs.

Edwards said afterward that like many other areas that flooded this month, people in Youngsville were in areas that had never flooded and didn't have to buy flood insurance. He says that insurance is designed to cover all damages, while help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot do that.

He says he will ask Congress for more money to help the recovery.

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Louisiana officials say about 2,500 flood victims remain in shelters statewide.

That is down from the number that Gov. John Bel Edwards reported on Aug. 14, when 10,000 people were housed in emergency shelters after floods washed out scores of homes and businesses following days of heavy rain.

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Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari will donate proceeds from a charity softball game featuring Karl-Anthony Towns to Louisiana flood relief.

The coach says his foundation is working with the American Red Cross to help flood victims through a text campaign. Calipari expressed sadness Thursday about the level of damage he's seen, saying "no donation is too small" for the relief effort.

The softball game Sunday will include former Wildcats Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Towns, the NBA Rookie of the Year. If there's a rainout, Calipari says ticket holders can watch an upcoming Kentucky practice.

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10:30 a.m.

Experts in Louisiana say some sugarcane fields remain flooded, with water unable to drain into full rivers and bayous.

Sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois (GRAV-wah) of Louisiana State University says farmers have been able to plant only 15 to 20 percent of their expected acreage — and need to finish planting and start harvesting, since sugar mills are expected to begin grinding in a month.

He says that even before the August floods, wet weather had delayed planting, which ordinarily would have begun in late July.

Sugarcane fields in St. James, Ascension, St. Martin, Iberia, Lafayette, Vermilion and St. Landry parishes were hit worst. St. Martin Parish farmer Justin Frederick tells the AgCenter at LSA that he has 350 acres to plant "and not a stalk in the ground."

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9:10 a.m.

A number of organizations from Georgia have joined together to bring needed supplies to those affected by the flooding in the Baton Rouge area.

The 'Convoy of Care' includes support from Caring for Others, Inc., Georgia Motor Trucking Association, several law enforcement organizations and media groups, law firms and as well as several other corporations and agencies.

The supplies include new clothes for men, women and children, water, toiletries and school supplies, among other items. They were donated by Atlanta residents and Caring for Others, a charitable organization whose focus is eradicating poverty.

The supplies were trucked to Baton Rouge as part of a five tractor-trailer convoy that arrived Wednesday night. The convoy was given a police escort from Atlanta to Baton Rouge and supplies are being distributed Thursday.

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8 a.m.

Business and economic development groups from across south Louisiana have teamed up to launch the Louisiana Small Business Rebirth Fund, which aims to give grants to companies hurt by the historic flood.

Ansley Zehnder, a spokeswoman for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said in a news release the fund will give grants of between $1,000 to $10,000 to small businesses.

While the exact scope of the damage from the flooding that started Aug. 12 is still being determined, the chamber said there are an estimated 12,000 small businesses located in areas that took on floodwater.

To be eligible for the funding, a business must be located in the 20 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration, have 50 or fewer employees and have been in business on Aug. 10.

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7:55 a.m.

Baton Rouge's flooded first responders will be allowed to live on city-parish land in housing provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The East Baton Rouge Metro Council says firefighters and police officers whose homes were made uninhabitable by the floods that devastated the region will be allowed to live in temporary housing under an agreement approved Wednesday.

Law enforcement and political leaders have repeatedly praised first responders for rescuing flood victims across the parish while many firefighters and police officers knew their own houses were flooded and they and their families could not go back home.

City-parish Chief Administrative Officer William Daniel tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/2biP4dA) the first responders will be at the top of the list for the housing.

Daniel said leaders are not sure yet where the housing for first responders will be placed

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7:30 a.m.

Louisiana's largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has relaxed some restrictions to ensure that customers affected by the recent flooding can get health care, medicine and medical supplies.

The company said in a news release Blue Cross is expanding its more extensive Preferred Care PPO network to provide in-network coverage to its HMO Louisiana and Community Blue members living in areas affected by the flood. The company also will allow early refills and the replacement of some medical supplies to help members in the aftermath.

The company said HMO Louisiana and Community Blue members may use the larger Blue Cross Preferred Care PPO network for care if they have relocated outside of their plan's service area or if their regular doctor's office or clinic has been damaged.

All acute hospitals in the affected areas are fully operational and able to treat patients.

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2 a.m.

Mobile homes will fill front yards across southern Louisiana again, just as they did after Hurricane Katrina.

FEMA is bringing in the temporary housing for thousands of people displaced by catastrophic flooding. Only these houses will be on blocks and strapped down, not on wheels like the travel trailers of a decade ago.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the disaster housing plans Wednesday. But he described a "shelter at home" program as the more desirable option.

Homeowners will be able to receive grants up to $15,000 aimed at making houses habitable quickly so people can live inside while doing more extensive repairs. Registration for that program begins Monday.

Those grants can only help homeowners with less catastrophic damage. For those with more severe destruction, they'll have access to mobile homes.