Housing Crisis Looms in Flood-Stricken Louisiana
With an estimated 40,000 homes damaged by deadly flooding, Louisiana could be looking at its biggest housing crunch since the miserable, bumbling aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a decade ago.
People whose homes were swamped by some of the heaviest rains Louisiana has ever seen are staying in shelters, bunking with friends or relatives, or sleeping in trailers on their front lawns. Others unable or unwilling to leave their homes are living amid mud and the ever-present risk of mold in the steamy August heat.
Many victims will need an extended place to stay while they rebuild. Countless others didn't have flood insurance and may not have the means to repair their homes. They may have to find new places altogether.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose very name became a punchline during Katrina, said it will look into lining up rental properties for those left homeless and also consider temporary housing units.
The flooding that has struck the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas has left at least 13 people dead. More than 30,000 have been rescued, and at least 70,000 have registered for federal disaster assistance. At the height, 11,000 people were staying in shelters, though that had dropped to 6,000 by Wednesday.
In a sign of the housing crunch, Livingston Parish officials are talking with FEMA about getting temporary housing for emergency and rescue workers. An estimated 75 percent of the homes in the parish of 138,000 residents were a total loss.
Those with flood insurance will be in a much better place to begin rebuilding — but there won't be many of them.
FEMA said more than 9,000 flood claims have been filed with the agency.