BATON ROUGE – Governor Jindal held a UCG meeting today with state and federal officials, followed by a press conference where he cautioned residents to stay in tune to their local leaders, even as they continue to prepare for the impact of floodwaters.
Governor Jindal said, "According to the Corps of Engineers, 15 gates of the Morganza Floodway are now open. The Corps tells us that in Baton Rouge, we can expect high river levels for up to three weeks. One piece of improved news is that they anticipate less backwater flooding in the lower areas of Louisiana. The Corps predicts this high water event will set records at Natchez, and at Natchez it will be five feet higher than a previous record. They continue to expect the peek flow to the Spillway on May 22nd. Over the next few days, they expect the water to begin to co-mingle with the Atchafalaya, and it shouldn’t reach I-10 until later tonight.
"The Coast Guard told us today that they have closed the Port Allen alternate route and they continue to work to limit traffic to reduce the amount of wave action on levees."
The Governor said, "GOHSEP, working with parishes, estimates that a total of 3,349 people have evacuated St. Landry and St. Martin parishes – including the area in St. Landry that is under a mandatory evacuation (that area south of Hwy 190 inside the Atchafalaya Basin). GOHSEP also reported that other parishes along the impacted areas have sent warnings to residents and many residents have self evacuated, including an estimated 280 citizens in Avoyelles, 50 in Catahoula, more than 1,000 in Concordia, around 100 in E. Carroll and Madison Parishes, around 70 in Point Coupee, and a few people in Tensas, Iberville and W. Feliciana also.
"The PSC told us they estimate that more than 14,000 structures – including residential homes and businesses – could be impacted by flooding from this event. They report that services have been cut off to more than 200 homes in Avoyelles due to high water and nearly 300 homes in Concordia. More than 500 homes in Pointe Coupee have also had their services shut off and around 88 businesses. About 100 structures are also already impacted and disconnected in Tensas and W. Feliciana Parishes."
Concerning the impact of the Spillway opening on wildlife, the Governor said, "LDWF biologists are monitoring the west Morganza floodway levee reported approximately 18 deer and one coyote observed on the levee. Two dead deer were found near fences, and they believe the cause of death believed is related to being caught in the fence. LDWF says deer disturbed by vehicles will run parallel to the levee and sometimes run into the livestock fences that are perpendicular to the levee. LDWF reported an instance of a deer emerging exhausted from the water and then lying down beside LA Hwy. 1 at Morganza. Wildlife officials caution residents to leave wildlife alone so they can recover and do not panic, which will lessen their chances for survival.
"DOTD placed wildlife crossing signs to remind motorists that displaced animals may cross the roadways surrounding the Morganza Spillway and to drive with caution. Additionally, State Police have initiated short-term closures of La. 1 over the Morganza Spillway as the Corp opens and closes bays. These closures are estimated to last 10- 15 minutes."
FLOOD FIGHTING UPDATE
Governor Jindal said, in support of State and Parish requirements, the Louisiana National Guard has approximately 1,150 Guardsmen mobilized for this emergency. LANG has deployed National Guard Liaison Teams to 19 affected parishes in order to coordinate National Guard support to Parish efforts.
Northeast Louisiana: National Guardsmen continue to support parishes and the 5th Levee District’s efforts to monitor levees, distribute equipment and supplies, and to fortify levees in East Carroll, Madison, Tensas, and Concordia Parishes. Guardsmen are also assessing areas in LaSalle, Catahoula, and Avoyelles Parishes in preparation for potential backwater flooding.
- The sandboil in the interior wall of the HESCO baskets at the Vidalia Convention Center has now been plugged.
- Yesterday, Guardsmen assisted in the identification of eight new sand or pin boils in Northeast Louisiana. Guardsmen have now located and flagged 127 sand or pin boils to date: 64 in Concordia Parish, 53 in East Carroll Parish, 7 in Tensas Parish, and 3 in Madison Parish.
- DOTD leased an amphibious vehicle for the Fifth Louisiana Levee District in East Carroll, Madison, Tensas, Franklin, and Concordia parishes to help in transporting emergency personnel and sandbags to address sand boils in seepage areas. Swamp or marsh buggies are specifically designed to travel through mud, swampland and other harsh terrains specifically like the flooded marshy areas in the Fifth Louisiana Levee District.
Assumption Parish: Yesterday, Louisiana National Guard teams assisted the parish with construction of 800 feet of Tiger Dam in the Pierre Part and Bayou L’ourse area. Thus far, the Guard has constructed over 7,650 feet of Tiger Dam. Today, Guard teams will continue constructing and installing operations on this project. The total project is 9,350 feet, with an anticipated completion of this project on May 18. DOTD completed the flood protection barrier needed along La. 663 in Assumption Parish. To complete the barrier ensuring floodwaters do not inundate La. 663 or nearby neighborhoods, DOTD delivered 189 cubic yards of sand and installed a total of 600 linear feet of HESCO baskets.
St. Landry Parish: Yesterday in Krotz Springs, National Guardsmen continued assisting the Parish and DOTD by installing 3,800 feet of HESCO barrier. To date, the Guard has constructed and installed 9,340 feet on this 9,730 feet project.
- Today, Guardsmen continue installation of HESCO barrier on this project and have an estimated completion date of May 17.
- Guard teams are also assisting the Sheriff’s office in conducting levee security operations.
- DOTD completed the 4,772 cubic yards of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) base in Krotz Springs, St. Landry Parish.
- In addition, DOTD utilized 75 trucks and over 115 staff members to haul RAP to build a base and fill material for placement in HESCOs and RIBS. The RIBS along with HESCO baskets will be placed on top of the newly laid RAP base to construct a barrier wall to protect residents and businesses from floodwaters. DOTD has procured 9,000 linear feet of the rapid installation barrier system (RIBS) and leased the CASTR30 sand-slinger to be utilized in the continued construction of a flood protection barrier. RIBS are quick assemble, heavy-duty triangular sand bags.
St. Mary Parish: The Guard is working 24-hour operations on the construction of approximately 25,500 feet of HESCO barrier in order to fortify and elevate levees to prevent backwater flooding in Morgan City and Amelia.
- Morgan City worksite: Today, National Guard crews continue to conduct maintenance and repairs as needed on the 8,000 feet HESCO barrier emplaced.
- Amelia worksite: As of this morning, Guard crews completed 9,450 feet of HESCO barrier of the 10,000-foot project. Today, the Guard continues the construction and installation of this protection. DOTD hauled an additional 5,089 cubic yards of dirt yesterday which brings the total haul to date to 19,457 cubic yards in support of the construction of a flood protection wall for the town of Amelia in St. Mary Parish. This project should be complete today.
- Siracusaville (near Morgan City) worksite: LANG has constructed and installed approximately 1,300 feet of HESCO barrier and today the Guard will continue installation of the 7,500 feet of HESCO barrier required to support Parish flood fighting efforts.
- Additionally, DOTD has hauled 2,080 cubic yards of sand in its efforts to support LANG, provided 4,000 linear feet of HESCO baskets, deployed 20 trucks to haul material to the site and 3 dozers to assist the parish in raising existing levees to an appropriate flood protection height.
- DOTD began excavation work, which helped construct approximately ¼ mile of a levee along Avocca Island Road in St. Mary Parish.
St. Martin Parish: DOTD is developing a plan to install approximately two miles of HESCOs along La. 70, north of Stephensville, in an effort to keep the roadway open during the pending flood event. DOTD will fortify both sides of a 1 miles stretch of roadway on La. 70 in St. Martin Parish. National Guard Soldiers continue conducting security patrols within the parish in order to secure evacuated areas, with the Sheriff’s Office.
Terrebonne Parish: Houma worksite: Today, National Guard crews will continue providing over watch security of the completed Tiger Tube installation around Greenwood Middle School and Bayou Black Elementary School. The Tiger Tubes were completed yesterday. At the Bayou Black worksite, National Guard crews yesterday worked with parish officials to access the location of the Tiger Tube installation in North Bayou Black Area to suppress backwater flooding. Today, crews will begin the installation of a new 10,000-feet Tiger Dam project.
Ascension Parish: At the Aben worksite near Donaldsonville yesterday, the parish completed construction of sand bag berms and HESCO barriers to reinforce the levee system. The National Guard assisted the parish by providing technical support and equipment to construct 3,150 feet of barrier to protect the community of Aben. This project is now complete.
East Baton Rouge: National Guard Soldiers are augmenting the Sheriff’s Office and conducting security patrols within the Parish in order to secure the levee.
- DOTD is using three pumps to remove water from the outside lanes on River Road in Downtown Baton Rouge at North Street. The outside lanes are closed Northbound and Southbound from North Third Street to State Capitol Drive to remove water. DOTD crews will continue to fight the river water seepage in an effort to maintain traffic on the roadway.
- DOTD engineers are continuing to monitor several places throughout the area related to seepage issues on its roadways; specifically, Scenic Highway (U.S. 61B) south of U.S. 190, River Road south of Brightside, U.S. 61 near Thompson Creek, and U.S. 190 at the base of the Mississippi River Bridge in East Baton Rouge Parish. Although water may be visible from the roadway, the routes remain passable at this time.
LDWF deployed 16 agents and boats to help reinforce the sandbag and HESCO basket levee surrounding the Vidalia Convention Center. Agents and boats are being used to transport Concordia Parish Correctional Facility prisoners and sandbags to the area. LDWF has a Mobile Command Unit in Krotz Springs operating 24 hours a day along with 205 agents, 103 ATVs, and two amphibious airplanes.
LDWF reports there have now been four bear sightings due to the rising floodwaters. Four wildlife management areas are now closed: Attakapas, Grassy Lake, Sherburne, Three Rivers.
DOTD has 369 staff members and 295 trucks and equipment actively deployed in flood prevention efforts. To date, DOTD has delivered 79,006 sandbags.
Angola evacuations were completed yesterday and they do not anticipate any other evacuations at this time.
Offenders and officers from state correctional facilities will be involved in sandbagging operations Tuesday in Assumption and Iberville parishes. About 110 offenders from the transitional Work Programs will participate in sandbagging operations Tuesday in West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee and Terrebonne parishes. An additional 27 DOC offenders will be transferred to West Baton Rouge Transitional Work Program Tuesday to supplement ongoing efforts.
Probation and Parole officers are assisting the Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office with community policing efforts. Additionally, the officers were tasked with providing perimeter security to Dixon Correctional Institute on a 24/7 basis.
The water from the Atchafalaya River is approaching the Cabot Corporation tank terminal at Krotz Springs, St. Landry Parish. DEQ contacted Cabot and they are monitoring the water. The Alon Refinery behind it has a higher levee around it.
Dune Operating’s Bateman Lake facility in St. Mary Parish, located south of Berwick on the west side of Bateman Lake, is flooding. They filled the tanks with river water so that they would not lose the tanks. Also, the Louisiana Energy and Environment’s Bateman Lake facility on west side of Sweetbay Lake is flooded. The facility is shut down. They also filled the tanks with river water so that they would not lose the tanks. DEQ reports that businesses with nuclear sources in the expected flood zone are being contacted to ensure that they are making plans to secure these sources in the event that their facilities are flooded, as required by permit.
DHH is working closely with nursing homes and hospitals in the impacted areas to monitor needs, emergency response plans and evacuations. So far, 23 patients have been evacuated from one hospital, and 79 residents have been evacuated from two nursing homes, both in Concordia Parish. An adult residential care facility in St. Mary Parish evacuated seven residents Monday and plans to evacuate 38 more by the end of the week. The adult residential care facility, Maison Jardin, in Morgan City reports backwater is still rising and could be a threat for mild flooding. The facility is planning for 24 residents to evacuate with family by Thursday and 14 to evacuate to the Gardens Assisted Living facility in Lake Charles by Friday.
DHH and Louisiana Poison Control are working with hospitals across the state to ensure there is enough anti-venom available to respond to an anticipated increase in snake bites that often occurs during and after flooding. Hospitals in affected areas should have 12 vials of CroFab antivenom, which works on all native snakes in the state except the coral snake, which responds to a different anti-venom. Most snakebites do not require anti-venom, and there are no concerns about supply at this time for those that do.
OCPR purchased 21,500 linear feet of tiger tubes to flood fight in the towns of Baldwin and the Gibson area – 4,000 linear feet are going to Baldwin and 17,500 are going to Terrebonne Parish to protect Gibson.
There are no shelters or ARC staging areas open at this time. DCFS contractors have delivered all resources to shelters, including 67 toilets, 34 sinks and one shower unit. DCFS is coordinating with ARC to ensure resources are available either through the Southern Baptist Convention or the agency.
At the request of GOHSEP, FEMA Region VI deployed teams to do preliminary damage assessments on personal property for IA, public assistance teams to do preliminary damage assessments on public property, and the Civil Air Patrol, which was tasked by FEMA to provide video and photo support.
DNR reports that 116 out of 124 or 92 % of the producing wells located within the Atchafalaya basin have been reported shut-in. The total estimated production capacity of the inundation area (including the Basin) is 252.6 MMcf/day of gas and 19,278 bbl/day of oil and condensate.
LDR will grant a 30-day filing extension for tax returns due May 15-31 on a case-by-case basis for taxpayers who: evacuated as the result of a mandatory order; engaged in preventative flood protection measures for homes or property located in an area projected to flood as a result of the opening of a spillway; or suffered damage to a home or property as a result of flooding on a date in which a return was due.