NEW ORLEANS (CN) — Gov. John Bel Edwards released an emergency order that extends legal deadlines as authorities continued to go house to house, checking for bodies following the historic flooding that hit Louisiana over the past weekend.
The “1,000-year flood” overtook entire swaths of parishes after a slow moving and torrential rainstorm spent 48 hours overhead, devouring sections of roadway and swallowing houses. (Louisiana has parishes instead of counties.)
The waters in areas surrounding Baton Rouge started to recede Tuesday, while residents in other parts of the state continued to furiously sandbag their properties and pack their belongings in anticipation of rising waters still to come.
Flood disaster relief was in full force Wednesday, with estimates that at least 40,000 homes had been damaged across the 20 parishes that have been declared federal disaster areas.
Gov. Edwards’ office said 11 people had died in the flood and more than 60,000 Louisiana residents had filed claims with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as of Wednesday.
Edwards’ order suspends all legal and other deadlines until September 9 under the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act.
“As a direct consequence of the disaster, evacuation, flooding and power outages, there are extreme challenges to communication networks that have created an obstruction to citizens attempting to timely exercise their rights to effectively pursue or defend claims in legal, administrative and regulatory proceedings,” the order said.
The order said it was issued at the joint request of the Louisiana State Bar Association, The Louisiana Association of Defense Counsel and the Louisiana Association of Justice.
Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson of the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans welcomed the extension.
“In this time of disastrous disruption of Louisiana citizens’ lives, services, and the infrastructure of the justice system, this emergency suspension of deadlines in state legal, administrative and regulatory proceedings is certainly a welcome relief for members of the Louisiana Bar, their clients and all those with pending matters,” Justice Johnson said in a press release.
The flood was the result of a complicated, slow-moving low-pressure weather system that dumped as much as two feet of rain on parts of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Helena parishes over the course of two days at the end of last week. That record rainfall amount had a 0.1 chance of occurring in any year, or the equivalent of a “1,000-year rain,” according to the National Weather Service.
Over the two-day period that ended Saturday morning, several parishes saw rainfall amounts that equaled a 1-percent chance in any given year.
Many roadways remained flooded across the state Wednesday, including a section of Interstate 10 in Lafayette.
Overview photos of the massive flooding Wednesday showed wide patches of interstates and neighborhoods beneath several feet of muddy water, with rooftops partially submerged and appearing like a network of boats suspended in water.
David Key looks at the back yard of his flooded home in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
Photo caption 2:
Mailboxes are seen just above flood water in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. As waters begin to recede in parts of Louisiana, some residents struggled to return to flood-damaged homes on foot, in cars and by boat. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
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