Louisiana flood damage at least $8.7 billion, governor says

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says his state had more than $8.7 billion in damage from catastrophic flooding in August, and the figure will increase as officials finish assessing damage to roads and other public infrastructure.

The governor’s office Saturday released a letter Edwards sent Friday to President Barack Obama.

In it, the Democratic governor asked that Congress this month approve $2 billion in federal aid for Louisiana for housing, economic development and infrastructure. He said it’s a “very reasonable request,” adding to other programs assisting in Louisiana’s flood recovery, such as aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“While short-term relief for immediate needs available through FEMA for items such as temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs and other disaster-related needs are greatly needed and greatly appreciated, our full recovery will not be realized without additional help,” Edwards wrote.

A storm that started Aug. 12 dumped as much as 2 feet of rain in some parts of Louisiana over two days, and the flooding has been described as the worst disaster in the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast in 2012.

Edwards said flood damage has been documented to more than 55,000 houses in Louisiana, and that could double as aid applications and inspections continue. More than 80 percent of damaged homes lacked flood insurance because most were outside the 100-year flood plain. He said initial evaluations show the majority of flooded households were for people with low to moderate incomes, and 20 percent were renters.

More than 6,000 businesses flooded, with more than $2.2 billion in damages to buildings, equipment and inventory, Edwards said. He also said there are “conservative estimates” of more than $110 million in damage to agriculture.

Estimates are that about 30 state roads washed out and 1,400 bridges will need to be inspected, the governor said.

Edwards said he has asked all members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation to support the request for $2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery money, and to ask their colleagues to approve it.

“The majority of these citizens did not carry flood insurance, and I impress upon you that they will not be able to make critical decisions on rebuilding their homes and their lives without the availability of CDBG-DR funds,” Edwards wrote to the president. “This additional assistance is critical to Louisiana’s full recovery from these floods.”


Emily Wagster Pettus reported from Jackson, Mississippi.

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