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Thousands Displaced in Storm-Drenched Louisiana PIA of Louisiana Says “We’re Family” As Recovery Efforts Begin

More than 20,000 people have had to be rescued from the flooding over the weekend in Louisiana, as thousands of homes to the north and east of Baton Rouge, west past the city of Lafayette, were flooded...
August 17, 2016

More than 20,000 people have had to be rescued from the flooding over the weekend in Louisiana, as thousands of homes to the north and east of Baton Rouge, west past the city of Lafayette, were flooded. Hundreds of drivers who had been stranded for over 24 hours on a stretch of interstate were rescued by Sunday evening. Four nursing homes and one parish jail had to be evacuated, and much of the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge was underwater. At least six deaths had been attributed to the flooding and law enforcement officials say they expect the death toll to climb.

President Obama spoke with Governor John Bel Edwards to say his request for an emergency declaration had been granted. Even in a part of the country long used to living with high waters, this was, as Edwards said, a “historic, unprecedented flooding event.”


READ: PIA’s Richie Clements Looks Back at Hurricane Katrina

“Destruction is not discriminate or severe, on a consistent basis,” said PIA Immediate Past President Richard A. “Richie” Clements, a native of Louisiana. “Many homes have been decimated to varying degrees. We’ve seen a couple of inches of water, and in some cases water up to the roof tops.”

“We went to a wedding and the water came up quickly. Fortunately, we brought our motor home, so we are dry and have generator power. But we had to move in the middle of Saturday night to avoid the water coming in,” Clements said. “Right now, I’m here with [former PIA National President] Robert Page and four other insurance people. We have seen some evacuees and asked each of them if they had flood insurance. Some do, but most don’t. They all say ‘it’s never flooded here before.’ That’s so sad.”

Governor Edwards recommended homeowners take advantage of any sunshine they can to take photographs of damage to their vehicles and residences for the next phase of disaster recovery involving personal insurance claims.

“What was going on last night especially around two and three o’clock in the morning [Sunday] sounded exactly like Katrina,” said Mike Steele, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

As a result of the disaster declaration, FEMA has advised that funds will begin being made available.  FEMA officials began working with LA to define their needs this past Saturday. PIA will continue to send the FEMA bulletins as soon as they issued regarding FEMA Emergency Disaster Offices, as well as FEMA/NFIP Flood Claims offices.

“Some on our staff have experienced devastation and absolutely our members have as well,” said PIA of Louisiana Director of Industry Affairs Natalie Cooper in Baton Rouge. “Damage is widespread and non-discriminate.  We’ve never, never seen anything like this and we’re not done yet.”

“Louisianans are the greatest, most loving, generous, toughest people ever—we all know we’re family and will each do all we can to love and help one another.  I'm so proud of my community, my city and my state!”

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