Update: 4 p.m.
Livingston, Tangipahoa and 14 other parishes in central and north Louisiana were declared Tuesday as a federal disaster and are now eligible for emergency aid for residents and local governments, the Governor’s office said.
Richard Carbo, spokesman for Governor John Bel Edwards, confirmed the declaration Tuesday, only hours after Edwards announced that he had made the same request to President Barack Obama.
Update: 1 p.m.
Gov. John Bel Edwards requested Tuesday that 16 more parishes be brought under the federal disaster declaration issued Sunday for last week’s severe storms that flooded homes and displaced thousands of people across Louisiana.
Heavily hit Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington parishes are among the 16 parishes Edwards is seeking to bring under the federal declaration that will open aid to residents and local governments.
“After days of visiting disaster areas and meeting with the families experiencing devastating loss because of flood waters across Louisiana, I have amended my request to include additional parishes in the Major Presidential Declaration for the State of Louisiana,” Edwards said in a statement.
Louisiana’s congressional delegation asked President Barack Obama on Monday to make the federal declaration statewide.
If granted, the declaration would open up individual and public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes are not in this request from the governor.
Other parishes in the latest request are in central and north Louisiana: LaSalle, Madison, Natchitoches, St. Tammany, Union, Vernon, West Carroll and Winn.
Seven north Louisiana parishes were the first to be declared a major federal disaster: Bossier, Claiborne, Grant, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Webster.
High water continued to recede Tuesday morning in Ascension Parish after the Amite River crested Monday in the northern part of the parish and was cresting during the morning hours in the southern end at levels lower than once feared, parish officials said.
Lester Kenyon, parish government spokesman, said Tuesday water levels are continuing to drop and residents’ calls for aid have fallen off and the flooding impact has not been as severe as feared.
Meanwhile, Louisiana’s congressional delegation asked President Barack Obama in a letter Monday to make a statewide federal disaster declaration to open up access to federal aid.
Obama granted disaster declarations for seven parishes in north Louisiana Sunday but hasn’t made a declaration for other parts of Louisiana.
Mike Steele, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Monday the process of determining which parishes receive federal aid is tied to whether they are still in the emergency response phase or the recovery phase when officials can make full damage assessments needed to get the disaster declaration.
The powerful storms last week affected river systems and parishes at different times as rain runoff worked its way through waterways on different timetables.
Steele said the northern parts of the state were further along and state officials decided to pursue the federal declaration in those areas first, and state officials are now seeking the same in other parts of Louisiana.
“This is the quickest way to do it instead of waiting for everybody,” Steele said.
The National Weather Service reported that the Amite River continued to crest mid-Tuesday morning in French Settlement and reached a high so far of 5.84 feet at 5 a.m., nearly two feet below the all-time record and at the high end of a minor flood stage.
On Monday, the Amite crested well below record highs in the northern part of the parish, ensuring areas in Ascension and Livingston affected by high water would be spared the severe flooding feared late last week.
The Amite crested in Port Vincent at 11.2 feet about 1:15 p.m. Monday and continued to drop Tuesday morning, the Weather Service reported.
Forty-four parishes have received state emergency declarations, but only seven are also federal.