Saturday 23 September 2017

Death toll hits eight in catastrophic US floods

Richard Rossi and his grandson wade through water after their home was flooded in St Amant, Louisiana. Photo: Reuters
Richard Rossi and his grandson wade through water after their home was flooded in St Amant, Louisiana. Photo: Reuters

Michael Kunzelman

An act of God is how some are describing the catastrophic 48-hour torrent of rain that sent thousands scrambling for safety in Louisiana - and left many wondering how a region accustomed to hurricanes could get caught off guard so badly.

At least 40,000 homes were damaged and eight people killed in the historic Louisiana floods, the governor said yesterday, giving a stark assessment of the disaster.

Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at a news conference alongside Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate, saying "well over" 20,000 people have been rescued. His office later increased that figure to more than 30,000.

Beginning on Friday, a torrent of about two feet of rain inundated the southern part of the state over a 48-hour period, and days later many homes and businesses were still underwater. While the rain has mostly stopped, rivers and creeks in many areas are still dangerously bloated and new places were getting hit by flooding.

"It was an absolute act of God. We're talking about places that have literally never flooded before," said Anthony 'Ace' Cox, who started a Facebook group to help collect information about where people were stranded. "Everybody got caught off guard," he said.

Forecasters said one reason was the sheer, almost off-the-charts intensity of the storm and the difficulty of predicting how bad it would be.

Irish Independent

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