2016 Louisiana floods
From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia
|Date||August 12, 2016–August 22, 2016|
|Location||Most of southern Louisiana, United States|
|Property damage||$10–15 billion|
In August 2016, prolonged rainfall from an unpredictable storm resulted in catastrophic flooding in the state of Louisiana; thousands of houses and businesses were submerged. Louisiana's governor, John Bel Edwards, called the disaster a "historic, unprecedented flooding event" and declared a state of emergency. Many rivers and waterways, particularly the Amite and Comite rivers, reached record levels, and rainfall exceeded 20 inches (510 mm) in multiple parishes.
Because numerous homeowners who were affected were without flood insurance, the federal government is providing disaster aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The flood has been called the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 60 deaths have been reported as a result of the flooding.
Early on August 11, a mesoscale convective system flared up in southern Louisiana around a weak area of low pressure that was situated next to an outflow boundary. It remained nearly stationary, and as a result, torrential downpours occurred in the areas surrounding Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Rainfall rates of up to 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) an hour were reported in the most deluged areas where totals exceeded nearly 2 feet (61 cm) in some areas as a result of the system remaining stationary. Accumulations peaked at 31.39 inches (797 mm) in Watson, just northeast of Baton Rouge.
The Washington Post noted that the "no-name storm" dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina. It dropped the equivalent of 7.1 trillion gallons of water or enough to fill Lake Pontchartrain about four times. Hurricane Katrina, by comparison, dumped about 2.3 trillion gallons of rainwater in the state (though more in other states). The flooding rains also dumped more water than had Hurricane Isaac. According to the National Weather Service Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center, the amount of rainfall in the hardest-hit locations had a less than 0.1 percent chance of happening or was a (less than) 1-in-1,000-year event.
Because the rain was not associated with a named storm, there was less warning to the public for emergency preparations.
Climate change connection
A rapid attribution study, published within one month after the event, indicates an anthropogenic climate warming role in the increased probability of the return time of a similar extreme event happening in the future. A follow-on peer-reviewed paper  indicates that the catastrophic flood in Louisiana was a result of intense precipitation produced by a slow-moving, tropical, low-pressure system interacting with an eastward-traveling baroclinic trough to the north. While tropical-midlatitude interactions of this nature are rare, they are not unprecedented.
Analyses point towards the tendency for more and perhaps stronger upper-level troughs propagating out of the western U.S. in summer; these have an increasing potential to cross paths with low-pressure systems that form around the Gulf Coast. Combined with the projected increase in precipitable water, resulting precipitation magnitude would increase. Large-ensemble modeling indicates that the prospect of future tropical-midlatitude interactions is a scenario that Louisiana will face in the future. Regional simulations suggest that the climate warming since 1985 may have increased the event precipitation (August 11–14, 2016) on the order of 20%.
Rainfall like this and the emergency help needed after the flooding subsides are straining the federal system for aid to states. Some analysts wonder if this is the new normal for storms and floods.
Flooding began in earnest on August 12. On August 13, a flash flood emergency was issued for areas along the Amite and Comite rivers. By August 15, more than ten rivers (Amite, Vermilion, Calcasieu, Comite, Mermentau, Pearl, Tangipahoa, Tchefuncte, Tickfaw, and Bogue Chitto) and many more had reached a moderate, major, or record flood stage. Eight rivers reached record levels, including the Amite and Comite rivers.
The Amite River crested at nearly 5 ft (1.5 m) above the previous record in Denham Springs. Nearly one-third of all homes—approximately 15,000 structures—in Ascension Parish were flooded after a levee along the Amite River was overtopped. Water levels began to slowly recede by August 15, though large swaths of land remained submerged. Livingston Parish was one the hardest hit areas; an official estimated that 75 percent of the homes in the parish were a "total loss". It was thought over 146,000 homes were damaged in Louisiana. This mass flooding also damaged thousands of businesses.
Thirteen people have been confirmed dead as a consequence of the flooding. An elderly woman in Livingston Parish was confirmed dead by parish officials. A man's body was found Wednesday on Whitehall Avenue in Denham Springs. Officials said they found a man in his 50s in the South Point subdivision off of Walker South. They added he had no obvious signs of trauma, and the area he was found in had five-feet of water in it at one point. Of the other deaths, five people have died in East Baton Rouge Parish, three in Tangipahoa Parish, two in St. Helena Parish, two in Livingston Parish and one in Rapides Parish from the storms and their aftermath.
Evacuations and rescues
The widespread flooding stranded tens of thousands of people in their homes and vehicles. At least 30,000 people were rescued by local law enforcement, firefighters, the Louisiana National Guard, the Coast Guard and fellow residents, from submerged vehicles and flooded homes. Many boat-owning residents of Louisiana and Mississippi, together with other volunteers, formed an informal rescue service known as the Cajun Navy and navigated through flooded areas to answer calls for help that they received via social media. They rescued as many as a thousand people and pets and distributed emergency supplies. A group of 70 volunteers from St. Bernard Parish conducted hundreds of boat rescues in East Baton Rouge Parish. By August 15, approximately 11,000 people sought refuge in 70 shelters. Flash flooding swamped a 7-mile (11 km) section of Interstate 12 between Tangipahoa Parish and Baton Rouge, stranding 125 vehicles. At one point, an approximately 62-mile stretch was closed because of flooding concerns. State police and the National Guard used high-water vehicles to rescue trapped motorists, but many remained stuck for over 24 hours. A cellular network outage complicated rescues over the affected area. On August 12, a state of emergency was activated for the whole of Louisiana.
With an estimated 146,000 homes damaged in the flooding thousands of Louisianans were forced into shelters, with more than 11,000 in state-operated shelters. This prompted an estimated 1,500 American Red Cross volunteers to travel to Louisiana. Other groups such as Louisiana State University, the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Celebration Church, Grace Church of Central, and the Church of Scientology also sent aid. There were media reports of one man who cooked 108 pounds (49 kg) of brisket for displaced people. The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals attempted to rescue stray pets, and the Second Harvest Food Bank and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana sent supplies and food. More than 109,398 individuals and households registered for FEMA assistance, and FEMA approved $132 million for assistance. Singer Beyoncé, along with sister Solange and Kelly Rowland, held an event that raised more $4 million for those affected by the floods in Baton Rouge. In addition, singer Taylor Swift donated $1 million to Louisiana's relief fund. Lady Gaga donated an unspecified amount of money. On August 13, the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated by the USGS, allowing for the humanitarian redeployment of satellite assets by the international community. AT&T donated $100,000 to be split between the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and DonorsChoose.org for flood relief. Randy Jackson and Harry Connick Jr. were scheduled to host a benefit concert at the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre on September 5, featuring over a dozen artists, and all proceeds went to the American Red Cross Louisiana Flood Relief fund. On the "Ellen" show Friday, September 9, host Ellen DeGeneres announced that she and Britney Spears would each donate $125,000 to help victims of the Louisiana Flood of 2016. Both celebrities are from Louisiana. Spears gave $125,000 to the Louisiana Red Cross to buy a new emergency response vehicle. DeGeneres received a letter from Betsey Baldwin, a P.E. teacher at Galvez Middle School in Ascension parish, which was inundated with two feet of water. The school has 620 students, who after the floods have been forced to study at another, nearby school. "I thought of one person that would help me, and it was you," Baldwin said. The company Shutterfly, at the request of DeGeneres, donated $125,000 to help Galvez Middle School recover.
Impact on school system
During the peak of the floods, around 265,000 children have been out of school, nearly 30% of the school-aged population in the state of Louisiana. There were reports that 6 schools were heavily flooded in East Baton Rouge Parish with another 15 in Livingston Parish.
Livingston Parish's Superintendent, Rick Wentzel, believes that their school system is in a similar position to the Northshore following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he held a meeting with the school district to discuss possible options. Livingston Parish conducted a teacher survey August 23–24, and a parent survey August 25 to assess how those are affected, and on Friday, August 26, 2016, Superintendent Rick Wentzel announced that Livingston Parish Public Schools will be resuming class on September 12, 2016. Wentzel, who was affected by the flooding himself, said he was "very pleased" that all schools will be resuming together. The late restart date is because LPPS received the most extensive damage with eight of the 15 flooded schools having "extensive damage." Wentzel said that each school will have a welcome back event for parents and students before returning on September 12, 27 school days following the August 4 start date. Wentzel said that the restart will have some unfortunate "side effects" as some schools will be temporarily platooned. The platooned schools were Denham Springs High School at Live Oak High School, Denham Springs Freshman High at Live Oak Middle School, Southside Junior High at Juban Parc High School, and Springfield High School at Springfield Middle School. All host schools were in session from 6:30 am until 11:40 am and all platooned schools were in session from 12:25 pm until 5:37 pm. The two elementary schools were in class alongside their relocated school. Denham Springs Elementary was split among Eastside Elementary (Grades: PreK, K, 1, 2) and Freshwater Elementary (Grades: 3, 4, 5) while Southside Elementary was split among Lewis Vincent Elementary (Grades: PreK, K, 1) and Juban Parc Elementary (Grades: 2, 3, 4, 5). This announcement also came with Superintendent Wentzel saying ALL students will receive free lunch until September 30. Following a school board meeting on Thursday, September 9, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parill announced the "known and confident updates" for the 2016 Academic Calendar. Only four changes were made to the calendar that include: changing Thursday, September 15 from a half-day to a whole day, removing the parish fair holiday on Friday, October 7 (the fair was cancelled due to the flooding), removing a parent-teacher conference day on Thursday, October 20, and making Wednesday, November 16 a whole day instead of a half-day. The board also voted to add class time to the day. Parill said they are still waiting on their appeal to Louisiana BESE waiving the required minutes of class, and any further changes will be made after BESE's ruling.
For the entire state, superintendent John White said that at least 22 schools had heavy damage and will need time to recover. There were also many school closures due to flooding in the Lafayette area as well.
Many teachers' homes flooded, with 4,000 staff members' homes in Baker sustaining damage and another 2,000 in East Baton Rouge Parish. East Baton Rouge Parish schools announced they won't open back up until September 6, 25 days after school was originally canceled for the floods on August 12, the third day of school.
Transportation was a challenge for many districts across the state, as many kids were displaced from their homes and many school buses were damaged from flood water.
The Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW), located in St. Gabriel and the sole Louisiana state prison for women, had 985 prisoners at the time of the flooding. The prison experienced flooding ranging from 8 inches (200 mm) to 3 feet (0.91 m). LCIW, the only state-operated prison to receive flooding during the incident, temporarily closed. It was the first time in state history that the whole population of a particular prison was evacuated to other facilities. As of 2017[update] the prisoners were still housed in other prisons. Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, next to LCIW, was not evacuated.
Damages were anticipated to reach $10–15 billion, with this storm likely ranking as the seventh most expensive of natural disasters in the US since 1978.
Because many of the areas that flooded were not in "high flood risk areas," the majority of homeowners affected by the flood did not have flood insurance. Across Louisiana, about 21% of all structures have coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program. Despite this, in many parishes that percentage is much lower. In St. Helena Parish, which was among the hardest hit parishes by the floods, less than 1% of all homeowners had flood insurance.
Because of the large number of homeowners without flood insurance that were affected, the federal government is providing disaster aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The flood has been called the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
FEMA, which has stepped in to help homeowners without flood insurance, has declared these 20 parishes as federal disaster areas: Acadia, Ascension, Avoyelles, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, and West Feliciana. Homeowners with damage from the floods in those parishes are eligible for up to $33,000 in federal disaster aid and so far around 102,000 people have applied for help. For business continuity and community rebuilding, private mobile flood recovery centers have also been made available, including a 10-piece modular building complex used in Baton Rouge by FEMA as a portable school for children of displaced families who moved north from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
- "August 2016 Flood Summary Page, New Orleans/Baton Rouge". US National Weather Service. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- "Louisiana flooding will cost U.S. economy more than $10 billion". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. September 9, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- Montano, Samantha (August 23, 2016). "The Louisiana floods are devastating, and climate change will bring more like them. We're not ready". vox.com. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
- Yan, Holly; Flores, Rosa (August 19, 2016). "Louisiana flood: Worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy, Red Cross says". CNN. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
- "WPC Surface Analysis North America". National Weather Service. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
- Pam Wright (August 15, 2016). "Louisiana Flood By the Numbers: Tens of Thousands Impacted". The Weather Channel. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
- Jason Samenow (August 19, 2016). "No-name storm dumped three times as much rain in Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina". Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- van der Wiel, K., S. B. Kapnick, G. J. van Oldenborgh, K. Whan, S. Philip, G. A. Vecchi, R. K. Singh, J. Arrighi, and H. Cullen (2016), "Rapid attribution of the August 2016 flood-inducing extreme precipitation in south Louisiana to climate change", Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 2016, 1–40
- Wang, S.-Y. Simon; Zhao, Lin; Gillies, Robert R. (2016). "Synoptic and quantitative attributions of the extreme precipitation leading to the August 2016 Louisiana flood". Geophysical Research Letters. 43 (22): 11, 805–11, 814. doi:10.1002/2016GL071460.
- "Nearly 24 hours later, motorists still stranded on I-12". WWL-TV. Tenga. August 14, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- "AIR Worldwide: Louisiana's Record Rainfall Caused by Low-Pressure System". Insurance Journal. August 16, 2016.
- Emamdjomeh, Armand; Krishnakumar, Priya (August 22, 2016). "A before-and-after look at the deadly, record-setting flooding in Louisiana". Los Angeles Times.
- "Death Toll Rises to 7 in Historic Louisiana Flooding; 20,000 Rescued". Weather Channel. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Kunzelman, Michael; Deslatte, Melinda (August 15, 2016). "Thousands Hunker Down After Louisiana Floods; 6 Killed". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Kunzelman, Michael (August 16, 2016). "Louisiana governor: 40K homes damaged by historic flooding". Yahoo! News. AP. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- McWhirter, Cameron; Nelson, Colleen McCain (August 23, 2016). "Obama Promises Louisiana Flood Victims National Support During Visit". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
- Broach, Drew (September 15, 2016) [August 22, 2016]. "How many houses, people flooded in Louisiana?". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, Louisiana. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
- Robertson, Campbell (August 14, 2016). "Thousands Displaced in Storm-Drenched Louisiana". New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
- Crisp, Elizabeth; Gallo, Andrea. "At one-week mark, Louisiana floods are worst disaster since Hurricane Sandy, Red Cross says". The Advocate. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- Robertson, Campbell (August 16, 2016). "As Louisiana Floodwaters Recede, the Scope of Disaster Comes Into View". New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- "Death toll rises to 13 in historic flood". Associated Press. Tegna WWL-TV. August 22, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
- Yan, Holly (August 22, 2016). "Louisiana's mammoth flooding: By the numbers". CNN.com. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
- Brandon, Kayla (August 18, 2016). "The Man Behind the 'Cajun Navy' Speaks Out About Saving Thousands in Louisiana Floods". Independent Journalist.
- Visser, Steve; Jackson, Amanda; Yan, Holly; Flores, Rosa (August 18, 2016). "Louisiana flooding: 'Cajun Navy' answers call for volunteers". CNN.
- Thornbecke, Catherine (August 18, 2016). "Volunteer 'Cajun Navy' Rescues Fellow Community Members Trapped by Louisiana Floods".
- Morris, David Z. (August 20, 2016). "How the "Cajun Navy" is Using Tech To Rescue Flood Victims in Louisiana". Fortune. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- Hauser, Christine (August 15, 2016). "Louisiana Floods Lead to 7 Deaths". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Crisp, Elizabeth (August 12, 2016). "Gov. John Bel Edwards declares state of emergency for entire state because of severe weather". Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber (August 18, 2016). "BRAC's preliminary analysis of potential magnitude of flooding's impact on the Baton Rouge region" (PDF). Baton Rouge Area Chamber. Baton Rouge Area Chamber. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Cusick, Ashley (August 16, 2016). "This man bought 108 pounds of brisket to cook for the displaced Baton Rouge victims". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
- Ben Lockhart (August 15, 2016). "Red Cross: Utah's volunteer response to Louisiana flooding to be largest since 2012". Deseret News. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- Williams, Jessica (August 15, 2016). "New Orleans area officials, nonprofits work to help flood victims in Baton Rouge, elsewhere in Louisiana". The Advocate. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "How many houses, people flooded in Louisiana?". August 23, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
- "FEMA approves $132 million in disaster aid after devastating Louisiana floods". Fox News. August 24, 2016. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- "Taylor Swift gives $1m to help Louisiana flood relief efforts". The Guardian. August 17, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
- "Lady Gaga becomes latest celebrity sending love and aid to Louisiana". WGNO. August 17, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
- "Flood in the United States". www.disasterscharter.org. August 13, 2016. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
- "$100,000 AT&T Donation Aids Louisianans Impacted by Floods". PR News Wire. August 19, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
AT&T is donating $100,000 to two organizations to help restore Louisiana following the recent floods. The contribution will be divided between the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and DonorsChoose.org.
- SIGUR, MATTHEW. "Harry Connick Jr. and Randy Jackson to co-host flood relief concert in Baton Rouge". The Advocate (Louisiana). Retrieved August 28, 2016.
- "Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears donate $250,000 to Louisiana flood victims". September 10, 2016. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
- Dreilinger, Danielle (August 20, 2016). "Flood update: 3 in 10 of Louisiana children may have had schools closed". NOLA.com – The Times-Picayune. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Lussier, Charles. "School officials in East Baton Rouge assessing flood damage, deciding when to resume classes". The Advocate (Louisiana Newspaper). Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Lussier, Charles. "Livingston schools hit worst in flooding, but is not alone". The Advocate (Louisiana Newspaper). Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Schmaltz, Trey. "Fifteen Livingston Parish schools damaged by water; Some up to 8 feet". Retrieved August 25, 2016.
- "Livingston Parish Students to Return to School on Sept. 12" (PDF). Retrieved August 31, 2016.
- WBRZ. "Livingston Parish Schools relocations announced for Sept. 12 return". Retrieved September 1, 2016.
- Couvillon, Trey. "Livingston Parish School Board approves added class time to 2016 Academic Calendar". WBRZ. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
- "The Latest: 22 Flooded Public Schools Can't Reopen Next Week". ABC News. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- "Home – KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette". KATC.com. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
- Cusick, Ashley. "As flood-damaged Louisiana schools prepare to reopen, displaced teachers are the biggest challenge". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- Schmaltz, Trey. "EBR Schools won't reopen until after Labor Day". WBRZ. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
- Lau, Maya (August 30, 2016). "Louisiana women's prison shuttered after flood, nearly 1,000 inmates relocated to various lockups". The Advocate. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Nakamoto, Chris (August 23, 2016). "Crews begin cutting road to relieve flooding". WBRZ. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Chawla, Kiran (August 24, 2016). "Mold growing inside women's prison where floodwaters refuse to recede". WAFB. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- "Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women." Louisiana Department of Corrections. Retrieved on June 29, 2017. Archive, Archive #2
- Thomas, Rachael (August 16, 2016). "Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women evacuated in St. Gabriel". Retrieved June 29, 2017.
- Calder, Chad (August 15, 2016). "Only 1 in 8 EBR residents have flood insurance, meaning many will likely bear brunt of losses". The Advocate. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- Larino, Jennifer (August 19, 2016). "How will Louisiana flooding affect insurance rates?". nola.com. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- CRISP, ELIZABETH. "20 parishes now covered by federal disaster declaration". The Advocate. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
- "Catastrophic Floods In Louisiana Have Caused Massive Housing Crisis". NPR. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- Calder, Chad. "FEMA, SBA are key resources for many flood victims, but officials warn grant money just a start". The Advocate. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- Santana, Rebecca. "Flood-Weary Louisiana Cleans House While Search Continues". ABC. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
- "Baton Rouge Offered Mobile Flood Recovery Shelters". FOX 8 News WVUE-TV. Archived from the original on August 25, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "Mobile Flood Recovery Centers Set for Louisiana". WAFB.com. Retrieved August 23, 2016.[permanent dead link]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2016 Louisiana floods.|
- Help for those affected by Louisiana floods at the Red Cross's website
- Shelter information for those displaced by the floods at the Louisiana governor's website
- East Baton Rouge Parish Flood Inundation Map Map of area flooded by 2016 Louisiana Flood in East Baton Rouge Parish
- Northshore Cajun Army
- Crisishaven.org – Crisis Registry created by local Baton Rouge residents