Louisiana assesses flood damage as residents return to soaked homes
Ron Allen set out electric fans at his rental property in southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, hoping to dry floors that had been swamped by nearly a foot of water.
“We’ve got to pull out the wood, pull out the vinyl. But first we gotta get the water out,” said Allen, 66. “This has never happened before.”
Record floods have been blamed for at least 13 deaths and damage to about 40,000 homes. Authorities have only begun assessing the devastation.
Rains that started last Thursday have dumped more than 2-1/2 feet (0.76 meters) of water on parts of Louisiana.
The American Red Cross has called the flooding the worst disaster in the United States since Super Storm Sandy hit the U.S. East Coast in 2012.
“Thousands of people in Louisiana have lost everything they own and need our help now,” Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster services operations and logistics for the Red Cross, said in a statement.
As of Wednesday afternoon, shelters across the state were housing 5,435 people, according to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a Louisiana disaster declaration on Sunday and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts.
The White House said on Wednesday that Obama had directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “utilize all resources available” in responding to the flooding.