Posted: Feb 18, 2013 5:35 PM by AP/MELISSA CANONE
Updated: Feb 18, 2013 6:02 PM
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has asked the White House to a disaster declaration for areas of the state that suffered from January flooding and severe storms.
Jindal says in the letter to President Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the damage meets the requirements of the Stafford Act for an expedited major disaster declaration.
Jindal says preliminary damage assessments for 18 parishes and some state agencies is more than $6.5 million.
Jindal says the severe weather began on Jan. 8 and continued until Jan. 17 with extended periods of torrential downpours followed by flooding.
The parishes listed in the letter are Acadia, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Madison, Rapids, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, Tensas, and Vermillion.
Below is the Governor's letter to the federal government:
Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Mr. Tony Robinson
FEMA Region VI
800 North Loop 288
Denton, TX 76209-3698
Dear Mr. President
Under the provisions of Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 USC Sections 5121-5207 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR Section 206.36, I request that you declare a Major Disaster for the State of Louisiana and for twelve (12) parishes for Public Assistance and ten (10) parishes for Individual Assistance as a result of severe weather and flooding. This severe weather event began on January 8, 2013 and continued until January 17, 2013 due to an unusual weather pattern consisting of a combination of warm and cold fronts that stalled over the State creating extended periods of torrential downpours. The State of Louisiana, its public infrastructure, and the lives and property of its citizens were negatively impacted by the heavy rains, subsequent flooding, and rivers that overflowed their banks as a result of this incident.
In response to this situation, I have taken the appropriate action under state law by declaring a state of emergency on January 10, 2013 (Proclamation No. 6 BJ 2013) for the entire State of Louisiana and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan in accordance with Section 401 of the Stafford Act.
The State of Louisiana's Hazard Mitigation Plan was approved by FEMA in April, 2011. It is a "standard" plan. This disaster provides the need and an opportunity to implement Hazard Mitigation projects that will reduce the impact of future disasters of this nature. I am therefore requesting Hazard Mitigation assistance statewide.
On January 18, 2013, I requested joint Federal, State and local preliminary damage assessments of the damages that occurred as a result of the severe weather. Preliminary assessments indicate that the public infrastructure suffered extensive damage as indicated by the damage assessments and that the Parishes have met their individual thresholds. The majority of these damages are from the submersion and washout of public roads in the affected parishes. Also, numerous homes and business were flooded due to the prolonged rain. Without the federal assistance made available through a declaration of major disaster approving all relevant categories of Public Assistance and Individual Assistance requested herein, repairs to the damaged public infrastructure, residences, and businesses may not be possible. At the very least, there will be significant delay in those repairs as a result of the budget challenges and shortfalls of the State and local jurisdictions.
At this time, I am not requesting Direct Federal Assistance (DFA).
As a result of the danger to life and property from the sustained rainfall, flood waters, and the subsequent actions taken, 18 parishes declared a state of emergency in response to this severe weather event. Those parishes are: Acadia, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Madison, Rapids, St. Helena, St. Landry, St. Martin, Tensas, and Vermillion.
In response to this incident, state agencies were mobilized and numerous state and local resources were committed to protect the lives of our citizens and their property. In responding to the event, state agencies expended $216,163 undertaking emergency protective measures (Category B), and coordinating the State's response with our federal partners and local governments. Those resources are as follows:
Office of the Governor
· I issued a statewide declaration of emergency (Proclamation No. 6 BJ 2013) on January 10, 2013, and authorized full utilization of all State resources.
Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
· Activated the Crisis Action Team at 0730 hours January 9, 2013 to monitor, report and respond to the incident during normal duty hours; returned to Level IV (NORMAL OPERATIONS) at 1600 hours January 18, 2013.
· Created WebEOC incident 005-13 Severe Weather State Wide on January 9, 2013 to support reporting and resource requests from affected parishes and supporting agencies.
· Conducted daily coordination calls with the affected parishes.
Department of Public Service (DPS) / Louisiana State Police (LSP)
· Deployed a communications system and linked it to the Livingston Parish tower site to restore the parish's emergency communications system after the T1 line servicing the Livingston Parish emergency 911 communications system was submersed in flood waters and failed for approximately five hours.
· Assisted with rescue missions in the affected parishes.
· Assisted the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) with state highway road assessments in the affected parishes.
Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS)
· Monitored and coordinated with American Red Cross as needed on shelters.
Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD)
· Monitored reports from all districts regarding areas of concern and road closures.
· Developed reports of state highways that were affected by flooding.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)
· Assisted with rescue missions:
Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
American Red Cross
· Alerted their northern and southern regions and placed their leaders and volunteers on standby on January 9, 2013.
· Conducted a state-wide conference call on January 9, 2013 to discuss preparations for the severe weather event.
· Prepared/assisted parishes with setting up a reception center in Livingston Parish and placed a shelter in Calcasieu Parish on stand-by/alert.
Army Corp of Engineers
· Monitored and prepared to take precautionary measures as needed.
· Deployed two engineers to help assess the situation in Jefferson Davis Parish and recommend additional actions. The engineers conducted an assessment of the stability of the levee protecting the city of Lake Arthur.
United States Coast Guard
· Launched a boat for Lake Security and enforcement of established Safety Zone in Jefferson Davis Parish.
· Deployed 10 LWIN radios which use the "R5 CordcalTlk 1" system to establish communications between USCG operations, the Lake Arthur Incident Command and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
· Continued operations through 1/17/2013.
National Weather Service
· Monitored statewide weather conditions and disseminated critical meteorological information throughout the severe weather event.
Louisiana is still recovering from four major disasters over the last eight years. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which impacted the State in 2005, have been classified as the largest disaster in U.S. history. In August and September, 2007, Louisiana was hit by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, both incidents resulting in the issuance of two presidential major disaster declarations. While Louisiana struggled to recover from the disasters above, the State's economy received an additional devastating blow as a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, which occurred on April 20, 2010. The aftermath of these incidents, in addition to the Mississippi River Flooding and TS Lee in 2011 (both resulting in the issuance of Presidential Declarations) continue to hamper the economic recovery of the State.
The State has also experienced a number of emergencies in the last twelve months, including a Presidential Declaration of Emergency followed by a Major Disaster Declaration for Hurricane Isaac, which have required activation of our emergency response plan and further stretched our state resources. Those incidents resulted in the issuance of five state declarations (40 BJ 2012, 82 BJ 2012, 87 BJ 2012, 92 BJ 2012, and 151 BJ 2012) include tropical storms, severe weather and flooding, subsurface instability, and saltwater intrusion up the Mississippi River.
As a consequence of these recurring disasters and the national economic downturn, the State of Louisiana has experienced significant economic hardship over the past three years, notwithstanding the several fiscally responsible response measures that we have implemented. At the state-level, the budget shortfalls for the past three fiscal years are as follows:
· During FY2010, the constitutionally-created Revenue Estimating Conference reduced its state government revenue forecast 3 different times totaling $777 million. The revenue shortfalls were addressed by utilizing nearly $200 million from the State's Rainy Day fund, executive department cuts of $250 million which included a spending freeze and hiring freeze, and reducing statutorily designated funds.
· For FY2011, the State faced a budget shortfall of $1 billion which was addressed by reducing state general funds (SGF) in the state budget by 15% to $7.7 billion and total means of financing by 14% to $25.5 billion from the FY2010 Total Budget of $29.705 billion. The budget also eliminated 3,000 fulltime appropriated positions.
· For FY2012, which began July 1, 2011, the State faced a budget shortfall of $1.6 billion. This was due to a combination of factors including an increased share of Medicaid costs and the loss of federal stimulus dollars. The shortfall was closed by strategically reducing spending while transforming government to do more with less. Major reduction and savings areas included: department-by-department strategic reductions to the existing operating budget; reductions across the executive branch by annualizing FY2011 midyear reductions; reducing more than 3,500 fulltime positions across the executive branch; and others.
The record-setting rainfall affected a significant portion of Louisiana parishes during the middle of January 2013, with daily levels topping 10 inches in several cases. Numerous roadways, drainage water conveyance structures throughout the affected region were damaged due to the flooding. In Catahoula Parish, the court house sewer lift pump failed as a result of the rainwater. Additionally, the winter wheat crops throughout the area were impacted, as standing water remained on farmlands for several days. Numerous schools and local government facilities were forced to close. Among the affected parishes, an average of one-in-four people lives below the poverty line, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. These communities are largely rural and have a relatively low population density. These parishes are shrinking yearly, in terms of their economies and populations. Impacted parishes from this incident include Acadia, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Madison, Rapides, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermillion.
Examples of the effects of the flooding are:
· Private psychiatric hospital received two feet of water; hospital closed January 10th to approximately January 24th; 28 patients evacuated; estimated losses of $45,000 per day;
· Elementary school received approximately one foot of water damaging 15 classrooms, administrative and nurses offices; school closed for two days;
· Approximately 35-40 roads flooded parish wide; most significant was State Highway 167 between major city Ville Platte and I-49; closed for two days affecting business;
· Approximately 20 roads flooded;
· State Highway 126 affected; a number of businesses along the highway;
· Many residences forced to detour 30 miles or more to reach home/work;
· Parish Tourism Office received two feet of water;
· Town of Washington - sewer system damaged;
· Approximately 12 businesses were flooded and were closed for 2-3 days;
· Approximately 70 roads were flooded kept citizens from leaving their homes and attending work and school;
· In some areas the water was so high that the Sheriff was forced to patrol with boats;
Similar road closures and their effects were reported in Franklin, Madison, East Carroll, Vermillion, Jefferson Davis and Livingston Parishes.
It is important to note that there is a significant, unmeasured cost of the personal emergency measures imposed on many Louisiana residents affected by the flooding from this prolonged rain and flood event. These measures required wage-earners to take off work or forego work in order to take personal protective measures or due to their inability to access roads and throughways due to flooding. This severe weather and flooding event serves to exacerbate on-going recovery efforts from the above-described disasters and has further stretched state and local resources beyond our capability to adequately address all the needs for the recovery of the parishes adversely affected by the flooding incident.
I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary. I am specifically requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance for the following parishes for categories A thru G:
Acadia, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Evangeline, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Madison, Rapides, St. Landry, and Vermillion.
FEMA has calculated preliminary estimates of the type of damages to the public infrastructure and the amount of assistance needed under the Stafford Act for all of the parishes and state agencies to total $6,532,759.
I certify that for this major disaster, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-federal share of costs required by the Stafford Act. Total expenditures are expected to exceed $1,633,189.
I am also specifically requesting a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance for all programs: Individual and Households Program, Crisis Counseling Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Case Management and Disaster Legal Services. I request those programs for the following ten parishes: Acadia, Concordia, Evangeline, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, Livingston, Madison, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermillion.
Below is a table reflecting the 2010 census data for the parishes requesting Individual Assistance
I have designated Kevin Davis as the Governor's Authorized Representative (GAR) and Mark Riley as the Alternate GAR. I have designated Mark DeBosier as the State Coordinating Officer (SCO) and James Clark as the alternate SCO for this request. Messrs. Davis, Riley, DeBosier and Clark will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will provide further information and justification on my behalf.