Bossier Sheriff: Focus on S. Bossier as Red continues to rise

Published: Mar. 14, 2016 at 4:11 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2016 at 4:11 PM CDT
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BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) - Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington says the emphasis is now on South Bossier, where the rising Red River and backup from Lake Bistineau - already at historic levels - poses the greatest threat after 17 to 20 inches of rainfall last week.

"With Lake Bistineau at historic levels, it's just going to start piling up, backing up. We don't know exactly how deep it will get and how far back it will get," said Whittington.

"The people right now primarily in the rural areas need to be paying attention," Whittington warned. Where the roads were flooded before and reopened probably may go under again somewhere in the (LA) 527 South area."

The sheriff went on to describe what he had seen on a recent boat ride in the hard-hit area, and how the view from a helicopter with Mayor Lo Walker revealed what looked like a lake where the rural roads and fields are supposed to be.

"When the wind got up, it was actually white capping out in the middle of Hwy 71. I've been here 57 years and I just can't explain to you what it looks like. Looks like to Toledo bend is what it looks like."

On Sunday morning, Whittington announced the mandatory evacuation of several neighborhoods along the Red Chute Bayou had been downgraded to voluntary after the bayou crested at 25.25 feet without spilling over the levee.

Classes resumed in Bossier Parish on Monday, with some adjustments for bus routes due to flooding and damage and excused absences for students and employees affected by the flooding.

Superintendent D.C. Machen said attendance across the district for the first day back at school in nearly a week was about 93 percent, with the exception of Elm Grove Elementary. Machen said the school normally has around 92 percent attendance, but had around  50 to 55 Monday, which was not unexpected considering how hard-hit that area of South Bossier has been by flooding.

With 258 bus drivers running around 520 routes daily, Machen said only 5 routes could not be run because of high water and washouts. 14 other routes could not be completed.

According to Whittington, 25 roads and bridges in the parish remain closed due to flooding and washouts. The Bossier Sheriff's Office also shared an updated list on Facebook late Monday morning of flooding-related road closures and washouts.

Bossier Parish is now one of seven parishes approved for federal assistance for those who have been impacted by flood waters.

With the federal declaration, Bossier Parish qualifies for both individual assistance and public assistance. FEMA will soon deploy Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSAT) to begin registration of those who are eligible.

Citizens who would like to begin the recovery process with FEMA can register in advance, either at the FEMA website, www.disasterassistance.gov, or by phone at 1-800-621-3362.

Machen also noted that the Bossier Parish School Board has set up a flood relief fund to help meet the needs of students affected by the flood, but did not provide any details about the fund.

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