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20,000 homes flooded in TX, LA

BY SUSAN KIM | HOUSTON, TX | June 11, 2001

Severe flooding in

Texas and Louisiana has killed 18 people and forced thousands from their homes.

Three feet

of rain fell over the past week in Texas and Louisiana. On Monday,

widespread power outages and closed roads continued to make it difficult

to even rescue residents in need or to assess damages.

New evacuations were called in Louisiana early Monday because sandbag

levees collapsed in Iberville Parish. Emergency crews were also

rescuing families from St. Tammany Parish.

Flooding reached rooftops in several Houston neighborhoods. Downtown

Houston was still shut down Monday. An estimated 20,000 homes in the

Houston area alone were flooded, according to premliminary city reports.

President Bush declared issued a federal disaster declaration for 28

Texas counties.

Louisiana state officials reported more than 1,500 homes have been

flooded. The damage ranges from New Orleans to Lake Charles, and miles

inland as well.

Faith-based disaster response groups have been assessing needs and

preparing to assist flood survivors. Making local contact is still

difficult because local phone service is still spotty in the affected

areas.

Week of Compassion, a giving program coordinated by the Christian Church

(Disciples of Christ) has been in contact with the Coastal Plains Area

of the Christian Church in the Southwest and with the regional office of

the Christian Church in Louisiana as well as with individual

congregations. Week of Compassion was preparing to issue an emergency

grant Monday, and is also working with Church World Service to determine

priority needs.

Both the United Methodist Committee on Relief and Christian Reformed

World Relief Committee (CRWRC) reported they were also contacting

congregations and emergency management officials in the worst-hit areas

to try to assess needs.

"It is too early to say exactly how much damage has been done, said Bev

Abma, CRWRC disaster response administrator, "but we expect significant

involvement, especially during the long-term recovery. This is the first

time in 13 years that a storm of this magnitude has struck during the

first week of hurricane season."

The Salvation Army and Southern Baptists were feeding thousands of

people by Monday. The American Red Cross opened nearly 50 shelters that

have housed some 10,000 people in Texas and Louisiana.

Public health officials are concerned about people's exposure to

contaminated water. Floodwaters can carry disease agents and bacteria

that can cause fever, gastrointestinal difficulties, and even death in

some cases. Residents are urged to clean and disinfect items that come

into contact with floodwater.

Health officials added that residents should also beware of snakes, fire

ants, and other dangerous animals that have been displaced by the

flooding.

The rain has left Texas and Louisiana but the storm remnants have

moved along the Missippi Gulf Coast, injuring at least six people Monday.

Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida's southern panhandle,

spawning heavy rain and isolated tornadoes. Flash flooding is expected in

these areas. Two tornadoes hit Biloxi, MS.

Initially, Allison was storm everyone thought had blown over. But it

turned back toward Texas and stalled, dumping torrential rain onto

already saturated ground.

Allison formed quickly in the Gulf last Tuesday, and made its first

landfall Wednesday when it was downgraded to a tropical depression. Just

when residents were breathing a sign of relief, the storm turned, headed

back to Texas, and stalled.

Tropical Storm Allison was the first named storm of the Atlantic

hurricane season.


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