Storm Still Pounding Louisiana; Damage Estimated at $1 Billion
Hurricane Juan, downgraded to a tropical storm, stalled over southern Louisiana on Wednesday, bringing more rain and high tides to the already-awash region.
At least seven people were killed in the storm, and eight were missing, authorities said. Damage was estimated at $1 billion. Thousands of people have fled their homes in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi because of high water.
The National Weather Service said the storm could bring another four to eight inches of rain on top of the 10 to 12 inches it has already dropped on the region this week.
Some Levees Holding
“What levees are still there are holding. We don’t have any idea how many are gone,” said Dean Daigneault, director of Civil Defense in Terrebonne Parish, on the coast southwest of New Orleans.
“We saw 15- to 18-inch redfish swimming on the highway,” National Guard Col. John Pizzolatto said after an inspection flight Wednesday. “We saw marsh rats trying to get to high ground.
“In Dulac, we actually saw coffins on the shoulder of the highway,” he said, adding that others were bobbing in the water.
Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, who offered the $1-billion damage estimate, said the flood and rain damage to homes and crops was nearly 40 times the combined damage caused by two hurricanes that hit the state earlier this year. Hurricane Danny caused damage estimated at $17 million to $23 million when it hit on Aug. 15; Hurricane Elena caused an estimated $2.6 million in damage over the Labor Day weekend.
About 50,000 homes were flooded by the latest storm, Edwards said.
Wind blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico kept tides four to six feet higher than usual.