Flood Damages Estimated At $20 Billion, Including 110,000 Homes And 7,000 Businesses

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has come up with the first assessment of damages from last week’s historic Louisiana floods, producing startling numbers, the Washington Post reports.

An estimated 280,000 peoples lived in the flood-affected areas, according to the report. That means 110,000 homes and over 7,000 businesses that employed some 73,000 people — all of which added up to a combined $20.7 billion worth of damages.

The numbers highlight the two biggest challenges state and federal officials, families and local businesses now face as they begin to get back on their feet from the disaster: where the suddenly homeless will now go and how to pay for the recovery efforts.

The area hit the hardest was Livingston Parish, says the Chamber report, with almost 87% of its homes and 91% of its businesses washed away in the floods. Only a handful of residents had flood insurance. The total value of homes in flooded areas reached more than $9 billion, but “the combined coverage of all Livingston flood policies, in full force, amounts to less than $2.5 billion.”

In addition, two out of three Livingston Parish homes had mortgages.

The Chamber notes that its analysis is preliminary and might change as more information comes in. It doesn’t attempt to look at individual property damage costs, but rather the total value of flooded homes, and did not include the value of belongings such as cars, appliances, clothing and other items that were likewise ruined.

The report covers nine parishes under the capital city region. Officials have declared 20 parishes under a state of disaster, and in some of those, water continued to rise Friday even as cleanup efforts began in the northern parts.

Everyone in Louisiana is keeping an eye on the weather as more rain threatens to pour. The National Weather Service has called for a 50% chance of thunderstorms over the weekend and a 60% chance on Monday. Sudden thunderstorms are common in Louisiana at this time of year, and the possibility of more downpours and flooding are weighing on an already burdened state seeking to right itself from what the Red Cross has called “the worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy.”

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