NEW ORLEANS — The Trump administration on Friday approved Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ request to expand a federal emergency declaration in Louisiana.
The expansion covers seven additional parishes affected by Tropical Storm Harvey: Acadia, Allen, Iberia, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine and Vernon.
Edwards thanked President Donald Trump and all federal partners for their help and quick response to Harvey.
“As teams assess the aftermath of this storm, the damage it has caused to several parishes in Southwest and Central Louisiana is becoming increasingly apparent,” Edwards said in a news release. “This declaration will ensure that the emergency work needed to help prevent any more damage from occurring or reduce what has already happened is essential.”
A total of 12 parishes have now received federal emergency declarations. The initial declaration included: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermilion parishes.
Meanwhile, Southwest Louisiana officials urged residents in the far western part of Calcasieu Parish to evacuate to avoid any subsequent flooding from the rising Sabine River and heed a voluntary evacuation order.
National Weather Service meteorologist Seth Warthen said the river was expected to crest at 31.5 feet (9.2 meters) by Friday evening at Deweyville, Texas, just across the Louisiana border. Dick Gremillion, Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness director, said that’s nearly 3 feet (.91 meters) lower than the record 33.3-foot (10.14 meter) crest that caused widespread flooding in March 2016.
The American Press reports the crests, which will occur at various points along the river, could last through Saturday and should start dropping slowly by Sunday.
Because of those projections, Sheriff Tony Mancuso asked the Police Jury on Thursday to order a voluntary evacuation for residents from La. 109 west to the Sabine River and north from Interstate 10 to the parish line. He said deputies went door to door to inform residents and help those who wished to leave get to a safer location.
Gremillion said the amount of rain brought in by Harvey could cause flooding in areas that didn’t flood in March 2016 and a planned release of water at the Toledo Bend Reservoir also will affect the river’s rise.
Gremillion’s spokesman, Tom Hoefer, said the people in the affected areas are well aware of the risks involved if they stay and likely “will heed the request to leave.”