by Chelsea Cabral, Staff Writer
Now that the flood waters that ravaged Louisiana four weeks ago have receded, clean up and repair is finally underway.
This historic natural disaster, one of the worst and costliest since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, following prolonged rainfall in parts of the South in late August, left thousands of homes damaged and killed thirteen people.
The Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, declared that a flood of this magnitude is entirely “unprecedented”.
The disaster began early on the eleventh of August due to two major factors: the storm was moving very slowly and there was an incredible amount of moisture in the air. Warm air traveling upwards from the Gulf of Mexico coupled with a large pressure system, and the combination remained stationary over Louisiana for several days.
According to The Washington Post, the storm dropped three times as much rain on Louisiana when compared to the rainfall seen during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In numbers, that’s about 7.1 trillion gallons of water.
One of the most damaged areas, Livingston Parish, received over two and a half feet of rain over the course of one day, damaging up to 70% of homes.
The sheriff of Livingston Parish, Jason Ard, mentioned in local interviews the further extent of the damage seen. “Most people in Livingston Parish lost everything,” stated Ard. He also mentioned that 40% of his deputies were left without homes as well.
The extensive flooding left thousands of Louisiana residents stranded in their homes and cars. As many as 30,000 people were rescued by local officials, the Coast Guard, and the Louisiana National Guard.
Since the majority of Louisiana homeowners did not have any flood insurance, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is providing disaster aid.
According to FEMA, the national agency is providing more than $205 million in financial support to flood survivors, with most of their assistance going towards temporary rentals, essential home repairs, and other disaster-related needs.
Total federal assistance has nearly totaled to a billion dollars for flood relief from national agencies like FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Total flood damage is estimated toward $8.7 billion.
While national aid greatly helped state of Louisiana, Governor Edwards mentioned that the response from American citizens was heard mainly after the flood ran its course.
“Because of the Olympics, because of the presidential election, and I think because it was not a named storm… attention of the American people has not been on this story,” Edwards theorized.
Despite the lack of media coverage, Louisiana still received generous donations from celebrities for disaster relief. Noteworthy celebrities, such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, have donated up to a million dollars for relief efforts.
In a statement to CNN, Swift comments on the warmth and friendliness Louisiana citizens gave her on her tour the previous year. She states, “We began the 1989 World Tour in Louisiana. Fans there made us feel completely at home. The fact that so many people in Louisiana have been forced out of their own homes is heartbreaking.”
While thousands of residents are beginning to recover, adjusting and rebuilding will take considerable time and effort. Louisiana communities and the nation as a whole have banded together to aid in the wake of this disaster, revealing the power of civic and public engagement.