Update on state agency flood fighthing efforts in Louisiana
Wednesday, June 01, 2011 at 7:47:51 AM

BATON ROUGE - State agencies continue their efforts to fight and prepare for flooding in communities across Louisiana. Updates from individual agencies are below.

As a precautionary measure, the Department of Health and Hospitals' (DHH) Safe Drinking Water Program began conducting weekly assessment samplings for volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) at six Louisiana water systems that use surface water as a source of drinking water.

These water systems could be at risk for receiving contaminated flood water from hazardous household chemicals, gasoline cans or other sources. DHH is testing the following water systems: the Town of Ferriday, Morgan City Water System, St. Mary Parish Water and Sewer Commission Number 1, St. Mary Water and Sewer Commission Number 4, St. Mary Parish Waterworks District Number 5 and Houma Water Terrebonne Parish Service Area.

If testing shows VOC levels above acceptable drinking water standards, DHH will work with that water system to correct the problem.

In support of state and parish requirements, the Louisiana National Guard has 1,150 Guardsmen mobilized for this event. The Guard continues to maintain and fortify projects, conduct levee inspection and provide support to local law enforcement agencies and parish officials. Today, the Louisiana National Guard is providing aviation support to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess levees in Northeast Louisiana.

Since last week, in support of the parishes in Northeast Louisiana, Guardsmen located 19 new sand or pin boils. Guardsmen have now located and flagged 249 sand or pin boils to date: 81 in East Carroll, 14 in Madison, 67 in Tensas and 87 in Concordia. Guardsmen have moved 400,000 sandbags in support of 5th Levee District Operations in Northeast Louisiana.

DOTD has delivered 41,440 cubic yards of sand, and 376,011 sandbags across the state in support of flood protection efforts.

In Vidalia, DOTD has closed La. 15 from its junction with La. 565 to its junction with La. 131 at the request of the Corps of Engineers. The detour route will consist of U.S. 84 (Ferriday to Stacy), La. 129 (Stacy to Monterey), and La. 565 (Monterey to Deer Park). The closure will remain in effect until the Mississippi River recedes to the extent that the levee reinforcement work is no longer necessary.

Lafourche Parish
DOTD deployed four dump trucks to the Grand Isle Shipyard in Galliano in support of flood fortification operations. Additionally, DOTD hauled approximately 300 cubic yards of sand for the Lafourche Levee District in support of its sandbagging efforts, which brings the total to 1,300 cubic yards of sand to date.

Concordia Parish
DOTD hauled 180 cubic yards of sand to Concordia Parish in support of sandbagging efforts, which brings the total to 252 cubic yards of sand.

West Baton Rouge Parish
DOTD hauled approximately 15,000 sandbags from West Baton Rouge Parish to completed flood fortification efforts in Morgan City.

East Carroll and Madison Parish
DOTD has hauled 10,000 sandbags to East Carroll and Madison parishes. To date, DOTD has hauled approximately 313,400 sandbags for flood protection efforts across the affected northern parishes that line the Mississippi River (Tensas, Madison, and East Carroll parishes).

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Because of rising floodwaters, many animals have been displaced from their normal habitats. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has 205 enforcement agents and 25 wildlife staff on duty, in addition to deploying 103 all terrain vehicles and two amphibious airplanes. LDWF moved its Mobile Command Unit to Patterson in St. Mary parish, with the unit operating 24 hours a day. LDWF enforcement agents 584 contacts and issued 43 verbal warnings while on levee patrol since the evening of May 29.

LDWF continues to track and respond to reports of wildlife as necessary. In total, there have been 21 reported bear sightings. The Louisiana Black Bear remains on the threatened and endangered species list. For assistance with black bears that may be forced into populated areas by flood waters, LDWF asks the public call 1-800-442-2511 toll free.

For assistance with these, or any other wildlife species, that endanger human health or safety, call the following LDWF field offices at:

• Baton Rouge 225-765-2800
• Hammond 985-543-4777
• Monroe 318-343-4044
• New Iberia 337-373-0032
• Opelousas 337-948-0255
• Pineville 318-487-5885

Department of Corrections
To date, DOC offenders have provided the labor to fill approximately 538,000 sandbags.

For emergency updates from the State of Louisiana, visit emergency.louisiana.gov or follow along on Twitter at @GOHSEP and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gohsep.