updated at 4:49 p.m. Tuesday
We just got word that FEMA has included Union Parish in its list of parishes officially declared disaster areas.
Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, announced Tuesday afternoon, March 16, that the President has declared an 16 additional parishes federal disaster areas due to recent flooding, according to FEMA. Union is among those parishes, along with Beauregard, Bienville, Caddo, Caldwell, DeSoto, LaSalle, Livingston, Madison, Natchitoches, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vernon, Washington, West Carroll and Winn parishes.
Bossier, Claiborne, Grant, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Webster parishes were declared federal disaster areas on Sunday.
“This historic flood has left thousands of Louisianians hurting and in need of federal assistance. After personally visiting all corners of my district – from Northeast, Central and Southeast Louisiana – I can say that the damage is widespread. That declaration is necessary so that we can move forward and rebuild together,” Dr. Abraham said.
According to the FEMA release, a resource sheet for applying for federal aid can be located online at Abraham.House.gov.
Individuals in the parishes that have already received a federal disaster declaration can register with FEMA by applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. Those who have a speech disability or hearing loss should call 1-800-462-7585 directly.
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In other big news, the water has now started falling a bit more slowly in D’Arbonne. The Louisiana DOTD, which manages the operation of the new tainter gates, has slowed the flow out of these gates somewhat — and for very good reasons. The lake was at 83.5 feet at 4 p.m. according to the USGS gauge.
The lake has fallen back to the tops of most seawalls and boat docks and if it continues to fall as fast as it has been, it could tear boat houses up, cause seawalls to collapse and undermine many other existing structures, including cracking slabs on houses that have just come out of the water the last 24-36 hours. There will still be some minor flooding around the lake as this process is completed, but I believe this decision for a slower fall is in the best interest of infrastructure in and around the lake.
The property along the lake is extremely saturated and needs a chance to dry out and drain off into the lake somewhat more slowly. The lake is still expected to fall at about four inches a day. The gates were opened last Wednesday when rain predictions started to look more severe than originally expected.