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Rapid Flood Response in Louisiana

Guard personnel help rescue nearly 7,600 people as historic flooding sweeps southern parts of the state
About 3,300 Louisiana Guard troops have worked to rescue flood victims or provide other support across southern Louisiana. The flood has caused an estimated 10,000 people to be moved to shelters. Photo by Louisiana National Guard
About 3,300 Louisiana Guard troops have worked to rescue flood victims or provide other support across southern Louisiana. The flood has caused an estimated 10,000 people to be moved to shelters. Photo by Louisiana National Guard

NEW ORLEANS Responding to heavy flash flooding across southeast Louisiana, the Louisiana National Guard has rescued nearly 7,600 people and 1,200 pets during search-and-rescue operations in 12 parishes since operations began Aug. 12.

More than 2,700 Louisiana Army Guard Soldiers and more than 500 Airmen have been mobilized, and 236 high-water vehicles have been deployed. Overall, more than 20,000 people across the state have been rescued by authorities, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Sunday. As of Monday, the flooding had claimed four lives and caused an estimated 10,000 people to be moved to shelters. 

On Aug. 12, up to 10 inches of rain fell in some areas. More rain followed the next day. According to CNN, the state capitol Baton Rouge received twice the amount of rain in one day than it normally receives in the entire month of August. Just east of the capitol, the city of Livingston received 21.3 inches from late Thursday until Early Saturday, the network reported.

"The simple fact is we are breaking records," says Edwards, whose family was forced to flee the governor’s mansion.  

Major General Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana Guard, says the first priority for Guard personnel has been saving lives. "We can also bring on military police and give police officers a chance to rest and check on their homes,” he says. 

Guard assistance to the community is wide reaching. Liaison officers have been stood up in seven parishes. Resources, equipment and personnel are deploying on land, in the water and through the air. In addition to the surge of high-water vehicles, the Guard has deployed 50 boats, 11 bridge erection boats and nine helicopters to reach the community, execute evacuations, employ engineer assets and distribute commodities.

Nearly 714,000 sand bags, 16,700 MREs and 213,690 bottles of water have been distributed across the state. Helicopters are conducting airdrops of water and food on Interstate 12 to stranded motorists. 

Edwards says that 18 parishes have declared emergencies and that more were in the process of doing so, with communities affected by power outages and closed roads—including portions of Interstate 10. At least 16 shelters have been set up, CNN reports, and in support, the Guard has also issued over 2,200 cots and 1,700 blankets. "This is an ongoing event and we are still in the response mode,” Edwards said, according to CNN.