Louisiana floods force thousands to evacuate

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Monday, August 15, 2016

Chuck Benham, a truck driver for Brewton Express, avoided the floods in Louisiana because he was on the road delivering a load to Texas. However, the OOIDA member’s thoughts remain with his family in southern Louisiana.

Benham’s wife, three children, including an 8-month-old, and four dogs were forced to evacuate their home in Livingston, La., on Sunday morning and stay with friends in Baton Rouge. Benham said the floor in his house was a foot-and-a-half under water.

“It’s tearing my stomach up thinking about how I need to be there,” he said. “She’s like, ‘you can’t do anything right now.’ But my company is getting me home this weekend. … I’ll probably be home Thursday. We’ll see what I can do when I get there.”

According to Weather.com, the massive flooding has claimed at least six lives and has forced about 20,000 people to be rescued. Thousands of homes have been flooded. The federal government has declared it a major disaster.

In a news conference on Sunday, Aug. 14, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that as many as 10,000 residents had been evacuated to shelters. The Weather Channel reported that at least six river gauges were at record levels. The Amite River topped its previous record by more than 6 feet in Magnolia. Parts of Louisiana have received more than 30 inches of rain.

“My wife (Nona) has lived in Louisiana her whole life, and she says this is the worst she’s ever seen,” Benham said.

Benham’s family left their home Sunday but soon became stuck when the vehicle stalled. Benham said his son-in-law was able to come get them and help them get to Baton Rouge, which is about 30 miles west of Livingston. As of Monday morning, Benham said his family was waiting to see if they would need to evacuate Baton Rouge as well.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Friday that a state of emergency was declared in Louisiana because of the flooding. The declaration triggers the temporary suspension of certain federal safety regulations, including hours of service, for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort. The declaration expires on Sept. 10.

As of Monday afternoon, there were still multiple highway closures in southern Louisiana, including parts of Interstates 10 and 12, and U.S. Highways 61 and 190.

“I’m going to have to be making some phone calls to see where I can go and if I can get there,” Benham said.

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