Obama declares disaster after Louisiana floods

Tens of thousands of people were rescued and at least six people killed as heavy rains flooded Louisiana over the weekend, prompting President Barack Obama to declare a major disaster in the ravaged state.

Explore>> Related: Deadly flooding strikes Louisiana; 3 killed, thousands rescued

Obama signed the declaration Sunday night, freeing up federal funding in four parishes – Tangipahoa, St. Helena, East Baton Rouge and Livingston – as authorities continued to assess damages left by the storms, which began Thursday. The funding is aimed at bolstering state and local emergency response efforts and encouraging recovery.

At least 20,000 people and hundreds of pets were rescued as historic amounts of rain fell over the state, The Advocate reported. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries alone rescued more than 2,300 people and about 465 animals, authorities said Sunday.

Explore>> Related: Woman, dog rescued from floodwaters by good Samaritans on boat

High waters forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes. More than 10,000 sought shelter at local facilities, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said, according to The Associated Press.

Government officials focused on search and rescue efforts Monday, The Advocate reported, mainly on evacuating people still stuck in houses, at nursing homes and in vehicles.

Edwards declared a state of emergency Friday and requested federal assistance after touring several parishes with FEMA officials.

"I have traveled to affected areas and have seen the destruction caused by this unprecedented flooding," Edwards said Sunday in a statement. "We are thankful for the federal government's quick response to our request for an emergency declaration. This is an ongoing event, and we are confident that every available state and federal resource will be brought to bear. I fully expect that more parishes will be added to the declaration on a rolling basis."

About the Author