Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards has issued a State of Emergency Declaration due to concerns about high river levels across the state caused by increased rain within the last few weeks.  The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) continues to support local emergency managers as their flood fighting efforts begin to ramp up. If those efforts exceed a parish’s capacity to respond, the parish may request state support.
 
“Again this year, we are dealing with high water levels on several different waterways much earlier than we typically see these problems develop,” said Gov. Edwards.  “Many regions of the state saw near-record rainfall in December and in the first few days of 2019. It is important for the state to provide support to the communities facing this emergency and to assist other communities where additional problems could arise. GOHSEP has been closely monitoring this situation and continues conversations with local leaders, hydrologists, the four National Weather Service (NWS) offices that cover the state and levee district leaders. By issuing this declaration, the state will be able to answer any potential calls for support from our local partners.”
 
There are currently eight parishes included in this declaration: Beauregard, Bossier, Caddo, Calcasieu, Catahoula, Rapides, St. Tammany and Washington. More could be added if conditions change. 
 
“More rainfall is expected across the state during the next few days,” said GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom. “Our local partners are beginning to take proactive measures to deal with the high river levels. By declaring a state of emergency now, this will allow the state to support those efforts when necessary.  It is also important for the public to understand this threat.  If you live in an area prone to river flooding, stay aware of your local forecast and river levels until the flood threat ends.
 
Remember, avoid flooded roadways. Do not remove or drive around barricades. It only takes a few inches of moving water to sweep a car off a road.  A flooded roadway is also more prone to collapse.
 
Visit www.511la.org for road updates during an emergency.  Keep your phones charged and near you while the threat continues in order to receive potential emergency messaging.
 
Find more tips on weather and preparedness on GOHSEP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can receive emergency alerts on most smartphones and tablets by downloading the new Alert FM App.  It is free for basic service.  The Get A Game Plan App is another resource available to help you and your family prepare for any type of emergency. You can download the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide and find other information at www.getagameplan.org.