NEW ORLEANS — The Latest on developments in Louisiana after Harvey (all times local):
The Trump administration has approved Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request to expand a federal emergency declaration in Louisiana.
The expansion, approved Friday, includes seven additional parishes affected by Tropical Storm Harvey: Acadia, Allen, Iberia, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine and Vernon.
Edwards, in a news release, said as teams assess the aftermath of Harvey, the damage it has caused is becoming increasingly apparent. He says the declaration will ensure that emergency work needed to help prevent any more damage from occurring or reduce what has already happened is essential.
A total of 12 parishes have now received federal emergency declarations. The initial order included: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion parishes.
Southwest Louisiana officials say the Sabine River is rising and they’re encouraging residents in the far western part of Calcasieu Parish to get out before it’s too late.
National Weather Service meteorologist Seth Warthen says the river was expected to crest at 31.5 feet (9.2 meters) by Friday evening at Deweyville, Texas, just across the Louisiana border. Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness director, says that’s nearly 3 feet (.91 meters) lower than the record 33.3-foot (10.14 meter) crest that caused widespread flooding in March 2016.
The American Press reports the crests, which will occur at various points along the river, could last through Saturday and should start dropping slowly by Sunday.
Because of those projections, Sheriff Tony Mancuso asked the Police Jury on Thursday to order a voluntary evacuation for residents from La. 109 west to the Sabine River and north from Interstate 10 to the parish line. He said deputies went door to door to inform residents and help those who wished to leave get to a safer location.
Gremillion says the amount of rain brought in by Tropical Storm Harvey could cause flooding in areas that didn’t flood in March 2016. He says a planned release of water at the Toledo Bend Reservoir also will affect the river’s rise.
Gremillion’s spokesman, Tom Hoefer, says the people in the affected areas are well aware of the risks involved if they stay and likely “will heed the request to leave.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has reactivated the “NOLA Pay it Forward Fund” to help Texas and southwest Louisiana areas hit by Harvey.
The money collected will go to non-profits conducting volunteer relief efforts in those areas.
Last year, the fund raised $250,000 to help flood victims in Baton Rouge and elsewhere in Louisiana.
The fund is housed with the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Its president and CEO, Andy Koppelin, says, “Texans opened their hearts, homes, and wallets to help us after Hurricane Katrina. It’s now our turn to repay the favor.”
Visit https://nola.gov/city/pay-it-forward/ for more information.