(KSLA) - Bienville, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches and Vernon are among 16 parishes that President Barack Obama added today to a federal disaster declaration.
The others added this afternoon are Beauregard, Caldwell, LaSalle, Livingston, Madison, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Union, Washington, West Carroll and Winn parishes.
The federal declaration Monday included only 7 of those: Bossier, Claiborne, Grant, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and Webster.
Earlier today, Louisiana's congressional delegation sent a letter urging the president to expand his disaster declaration to include more parishes.
The state has declared 44 parishes to be in a state of emergency.
The delegates' letter says the emergency response Louisiana needs will exceed state resources.
"We need to provide help to all affected parishes, especially as that number grows each day," said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. "As our state continues to face severe storms and flooding, I strongly urge the president to declare a statewide federal disaster declaration to help the thousands of citizens who have been evacuated and had their homes destroyed ... ."
The number of Louisiana homes and businesses damaged by flooding has risen to 6,143, according to new reports supplied by parishes. That total is expected to climb as more parishes compile data.
River and lake levels continue to rise in some areas. So more structures are flooding.
Statewide, dozens of roadways remain closed because of standing water.
Thousands of rescues have been reported since Wednesday. The Louisiana Army National Guard has used more than 160 high-water vehicles, 44 boats and 3 helicopters to save 4,255 people and more than 300 pets. Another 700 people have been rescued by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department personnel.
One of those helicopters, a Black Hawk, was used to drop sling-loaded sandbags southeast of Colfax in an effort to stop the flow of water from Bayou Darrow into Bayou Rigolette.
Guardsmen also used a helicopter Tuesday to drop sandbags in an effort to restrict water flow in a culvert near the Allen Chivery Dam on state Highway 1226 near the Natchitoches Parish village of Clarence. That culvert was successfully plugged at 12:01 p.m. Wednesday with the help of members of the Natchitoches sheriff's office, Natchitoches Fire District 7 and Natchitoches Fire District 9 divers, the sheriff's office reports.
The state highway department and Natchitoches Parish inmates are involved in additional sandbagging operations in the parish, the Natchitoches sheriff's office reports.
The National Guard has about 1,300 troops responding to flood operations in more than 25 parishes to help with evacuations, search-and-rescue efforts, distribute more than 12,000 bottles of water, provide security, support shelters and distribute more than 582,000 sandbags with 8 sandbag-filling machines.
More than 15 Louisiana National Guardsmen out of West Monroe assembled emergency levee walls to protect Monroe from the rising Ouachita River. "Anything we can do to save people's businesses and lives, that's what we're here to do," Staff Sgt. Tommy Dunlop, of Choudrant, said.
They transformed a half-mile of hinged concrete slabs that usually are the sidewalk alongside the river into the 6-foot tall levee. "This levee is a modular system which can be put up and put down in a day or two," said 1st Lt. Sean Place, of West Monroe.
Individuals in the parishes that already have received a federal disaster declaration can register with FEMA by applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling toll-free at (800) 621-3362. Those who have a speech disability or hearing loss should call toll-free at (800) 462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call toll-free at (800) 621-3362.