Residents see minor damages in weekend floods
Published 6:34 am Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Although rain remains in the forecast for the remainder of the week, the threats of flooding have diminished since the weekend.
According to news reports, the weekend floods led to six deaths in the state and tens of thousands of rescues, but for the most part, residents of Washington Parish weathered the storms largely unscathed.
Briefly, from Saturday to Sunday, the Red Cross opened a shelter at Franklinton High School. But Bobbi Jo Breland, the assistant director for the parish’s office of homeland security and emergency preparedness, said the shelter was closed Sunday morning because no one was using it.
State offices in Washington Parish remained closed on Monday due to the flooding and Breland said “30 to 40” homes in the parish experienced some flooding, particularly in the Bogue Chitto River area near Franklinton. Breland said her office is still assessing the damages from the flooding and she asks residents to call her office and report damages if they have not done so already.
“Call our office to report the damage,” Breland said. “Hopefully that will help in getting a federal declaration like we got in March.”
Even if federal help does come, Levi Sumrall said he doubts it will help him much.
Sumrall lives near the banks of the Bogue Chitto River, and his trailer home was totally destroyed by flooding in March. FEMA helped cover the cost of that.
Saturday, Sumrall said he saw the river rising again and he knew he had to get out once again.
“We probably had four hours or something like that,” he said.
Sumrall said he doesn’t take flooding lightly and knows the river can turn deadly when the waters rise.
“When that river comes up, you need to get out of there,” he said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
This time he was able to move his new mobile home to higher ground, but two trailers on his property — second homes for his sons — were destroyed. He estimated the loss to be about $35,000, and said neither trailer was insured.
Sumrall said he didn’t expect more flooding this year.
“I’ve been here all my life and this is the first time it’s flooded twice in one year,” he said.
He said the river rose 26 feet in March and it rose 19 feet this last weekend.
Breland said if anyone in the parish would like to report flood damage, they may call her office at 985-839-0434. If residents get an answering machine, they should leave a message.
However, the weather that spared Washington Parish didn’t mean light work for some of the parish’s first responders. According to Chief Deputy Mike Haley with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office, deputies were working through the weekend assisting neighboring parishes.
“On Saturday, Aug. 13, Sheriff Seal dispatched four deputies and two boats to assist in rescue efforts in Tangipahoa Parish,” Haley said. “WPSO officers assisted in the rescue of approximately 50 persons and an equal number of pets.
“On Monday, Aug. 15, Sheriff Seal dispatched seven deputies and one boat to assist in rescue efforts and patrol duties in East Baton Rouge Parish. WPSO officers left Washington Parish at 4:30 a.m. Monday and arrived in East Baton Rouge Parish at approximately 7:30 a.m. The deployment is scheduled to continue through this week. East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association are coordinating the assignment of outside agency deputies in Baton Rouge. WPSO is a member of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association Task Force.”
Breland said residents can call on the Red Cross and local aid agencies for some help. The Louisiana Red Cross office’s number is 225-268-8107.
If anyone would like to donate to the Red Cross, they may do so by visiting www.redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or people can donate $10 by texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999.
Anyone who needs the FEMA can reach them at 1-800-621-FEMA or by going to www.disasterassistance.gov and anyone who needs information about the National Flood Insurance Program can get that by calling 1-888-379-9531 or by going to www.floodsmart.gov. Anyone who would like to know about volunteer opportunities can call 225-291-4533 or visit www.volunteerlouisiana.gov.