Three more parishes were added Thursday to 23 others already under a federal disaster declaration because of recent floods that inundated much of Louisiana, where emergency officials said water damaged more than 10,000 homes.
"This is a record-breaking flood event, with floodwater all over the state of Louisiana, in places where it's never been before," Gov. John Bel Edwards said during a briefing in Baton Rouge with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate.
Fugate said Louisiana residents already have received approximately $2.5 million in advance payments for flood insurance claims. He said residents whose damaged property wasn't covered by flood insurance could be eligible for Small Business Administration loans or FEMA grants. He urged residents affected by flooding to register with FEMA.
"We'll be here as long as it takes," Fugate told Edwards.
The flooding that began last week resulted in evacuations of about 21,000 people and damaged between 11,000 and 12,000 homes, said Mike Steele, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. He added that an additional 1,200 private buildings, including businesses, and 13 public buildings have been damaged.
Although the number of people in shelters had diminished to about 200 by Thursday morning, Steele said shelters housed more than 1,300 over the days of flooding.
Allen, Ascension and Calcasieu parishes were added to a federal disaster declaration Thursday, bringing the number of parishes covered to 26.
The effects of heavy rains that deluged much of the state were still being felt.
Roads in several areas of the state were still under water, often because of swollen nearby bodies of water. Interstate 10 at the Texas state line was still closed and was expected to remain that way through the weekend.
Storms, some with heavy rain, moved across the state Thursday and flood warnings remained in effect on some rivers. But Andrew Ansorge of the National Weather Service in Slidell noted that the systems were moving more quickly than those that sat over the state last week.
Even as some areas started to dry out, others remained flooded.
LSU AgCenter extension agent Bruce Garner said the flooding in rural West Carroll Parish in northeast Louisiana was getting worse.
Garner told The News-Star that Bayou Macon and Bayou Boeuf in northeast Louisiana spilled over into the farm fields and pasture land.
He said 800 acres of corn had been planted there and it's been under water for four or five days.
Farmer Ty Rogers of West Carroll Parish said producers were looking at a loss of nearly $200 or more per acre of planted corn. This accounts for the cost of seed and fertilizer, according to the third generation farmer. Rogers said he has about 500 acres of corn submerged.