BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump in August of 2019, requesting that the president issue a major disaster declaration following the flooding that happened along the Mississippi River. That declaration was approved Friday, Sept. 20, the governor’s office announced.
The declaration allows the federal government to supplement the flood fight costs for state and local agencies along with damages incurred.
“We have never dealt with river flooding issues like we have experienced this year,” Gov. Edwards said in a prepared statement in August. “The Mississippi River remained above flood stage for the longest period in recorded history, and record rainfall only added to problems along waterways across the state. The conditions were so extreme that the Bonnet Carre Spillway had to be opened twice. While we faced a threat that exceeded the 1927 Mississippi River flood, our local levee districts and parishes have incurred great costs for patrols and temporary repair efforts. State agencies took extraordinary measures to support our local partners, but assistance from the federal government will be instrumental in helping them continue their recovery.”
Public assistance has been approved for Assumption, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Franklin, Iberville, Ouachita, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, St. Martin, Terrebonne, and West Feliciana parishes. The assistance will help fund services involving debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent work on infrastructure.
President Trump also approved hazard mitigation statewide.
The request indicated that Lower Mississippi River flooding cannot be defined by a single, brief period of time. According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Mississippi River and tributaries drain 41 percent of all water in the U.S. It is the world’s third-largest watershed.
The increased rainfall in the Midwest and Tennessee, Ohio and Arkansas river valleys, in addition to snowmelt in the north since late 2018 that drained draining to Louisiana. For months, those floodwaters continued to impact the levee system in Louisiana.
Gov. Edwards issued a State of Emergency Declaration for Louisiana effective February 26, 2019.
On July 30, the Mississippi River had fallen below moderate flood stage at all gauges. But the governor asked to extend the incident period through that date.
To read the request, click here.