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Floods affect hundreds

Hundreds of homes in Louisiana, Missouri and Ohio were affected by floods.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | May 21, 2004


"It's sunny today, so we're starting to get a break."

—Jessie Bellard


Hundreds of homes in Louisiana, Missouri and Ohio have been affected by recent flooding.

In southern Louisiana, flood damage was still being assessed Friday in Acadia and St. Landry parishes. In Acadia, Emergency Management Director John Quebodeaux said 264 homes were affected, 24 with major damage and four destroyed.

"But there are still homes we can't get to because of high water," said Quebodeaux. "We may not be able to get into some areas until the middle of next week."

He and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials were examining more damages Friday, but so far damage to roads, bridges and other parish infrastructure has hit $1.5 million. "We're waiting on a presidential declaration of emergency," said Quebodeaux.

In St. Landry and St. Martin parishes combined, more than 100 homes sustained flood damage. Jessie Bellard, director of administration for St. Landry Parish Emergency Management, said calls for help were starting to roll in Friday. "We'd only had 14 complaints up to yesterday, but once those assistance numbers got out into the public, the calls are coming in quickly," he said, adding that his office handed out more than 2,500 sandbags to help residents when the waters first threatened.

Local assessment teams were continuing to canvass damaged neighborhoods Friday.

Fortunately, the weather was now cooperating. "It's sunny today, so we're starting to get a break," said Bellard. "And thank God for that, it would be hard to keep up otherwise."

The Kansas City, Missouri, region was still cleaning up Friday after heavy downpours flooded homes and streets Tuesday and Wednesday. Cass County, south of Kansas City, has some of the worst damage. The small town of Freeman had some 11 homes damaged, according to Cass County Emergency Management Director Stan Swaggert.

"We're talking some with four inches of water that ran through them, and some with four feet of water," he said.

He said another badly damaged area is Lake Annette, a tiny town just north of Freeman. "I'm going to do damage assessments there today, but fire officials have already told me some 40 to 50 homes there were damaged." Swaggert said representatives from The Salvation Army, American Red Cross (ARC) and AmeriCorps were assisting.

"We've had many call in to see how they could help, including the local ministerial alliance," he said. "But right now we're just looking at the scope of the problems and trying to coordinate a response. Lots of people want to help."

In Ohio, Perry County residents dealt with rain-swollen creeks that flooded several communities Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Floodwaters wiped out roads and forced many people from their homes in the southeast Ohio county. The water has now receded, and Gov. Bob Taft declared the county a disaster area.

So far, more than 15 homes are reported to have flood damage.

According to Perry County Emergency Management Director Rita Spencer, home damage is still being assessed today by ARC officials in the communities of Corning, Crooksville, McCuneville, Moxahela, New Straitsville, Shawnee and Hemlock.


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