Amy McIntosh is the managing editor of Storm Water Solutions. McIntosh can be reached at [email protected]
Aug 16, 2016

Louisiana's Historic Floods

Parts of southern Louisiana remain underwater after historic rainfall swept through the area beginning last Friday. In three days, more than 2 ft of water fell on parts of Baton Rouge and its suburbs, causing rivers to flood, which led to widespread damage in areas that typically are not at risk.

The Washington Post reported that nine rivers crested at record levels, and the levee system could not handle the rainfall. The combination of high humidity and low pressure triggered the storms.

Rescue efforts have been underway. Approximately 3,300 National Guard troops were called in, rescuing approximately 7,600 people and 1,000 pets. Still, as of Tuesday afternoon, eight people were reported dead and 11,000 were in shelters, with tens of thousands of homes damaged.

Because this flooding occurred in an area that typically is dry, most homeowners facing damage likely do not have flood insurance, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported. Money will be available to help uninsured homeowners, but it’s not yet clear how much or how many homeowners will be unable to rely on insurance claims to rebuild.

In times like these, the tragic stories often attract the most media attention, but it’s also important to highlight the heroic and innovative attempts at rescue and flood control. For example, the LA Times reported on a Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge that opted for a flood control solution over evacuation. Engineers installed a 6-ft-tall inflatable Aqua dam that protected the building from rising floodwaters.

Although the water appears to be receding, backwater flooding—flooding that occurs when water is pushed upstream because of a blockage downstream—continues. On top of that, the forecast still calls for sporadic rainfall in the next few days. For now, rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts will continue while Mother Nature runs her course.