Governor requests disaster declaration for St. John the Baptist Parish

Published: Mar. 21, 2016 at 9:48 PM CDT
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St. John the Baptist Parish is now in line to be declared a federal disaster area. The Governor's Office of Homeland Security confirmed the paperwork was sent to Washington Friday March 18, 2016. Individual requests must be made by the governor for each individual parish based on damage assessments. GOHSEP said the flood emergency did slow the process.

If the declaration is accepted people with tornado damage in St. John Parish will have access to more federal assistance. In the meantime there are some funds for temporary housing available. People in need of rental assistance need to register with FEMA to begin that process.

Tornado victims in LaPlace understand it will take time for life to get back to normal. Lorita Jenkins lives in Spring Meadows subdivision. She said, "We usually get tornado warnings, but usually it don't happen." Jenkins expected the February 23, 2016 storms to be like all the others.    Jenkins said, "All of a sudden we heard the sound like a train and my daughter came in and she said go in the bathroom."

The storms left her with serious damage, but better off than her neighbors. Jenkins said, "That's why I say we're blessed. It's like four houses down from us and all in the back and some of our trees out the ground." Those homes likely can't be salvaged. Some homes were destroyed with the tornado, but each round of storms makes it harder to salvage some structures.

Todd Russell a local builder explains, "Houses that have been open. They have made it through two or three storms. There's so much water damage. They got to tear them down to the ground. So that's what I was saying. Anybody that can close in a house or help somebody close in a house is doing them good justice." Russell said, "There's so much work right now that there's no way everybody's going to get their houses water tight and closed in unless more guys come in to help out.'

He says things are just getting started because most work right now is out of pocket and it will be even busier once insurance payments make it in. Jenkins said, "it's going to take time. We still got a lot to do." With repairs and tear downs in progress LaPlace continues its recovery mode.

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