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Mental trauma apparent on Louisiana flood's young victims

Children who endured harrowing rescues are returning to a jarring landscape that even their parents can scarcely grasp.

Published: 19th August 2016 11:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th August 2016 11:40 PM   |  A+A-

Deep South Weather_Mukh

Bayou View Elementary School second grader Ethan Borderon, 8, and other classmates load cleaning supplies at the Gulfport, Miss., school for flood victims in Louisiana. (AP)

By AP

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana: The Latest on flooding in southern Louisiana (all times local):

In flood-ravaged south Louisiana, mental scars are already showing on the youngest victims of a disaster that prompted more than 30,000 rescues and left an estimated 40,000 homes damaged.

Children who endured harrowing rescues are returning home to a jarring landscape that even their parents can scarcely grasp: Homes filled with ruined possessions need to be gutted. Scores of damaged schools and daycare centers are closed indefinitely. Working parents must also line up caretakers for their kids.

Denham Springs resident Michelle Parrott says the floods have traumatized her six children, who have slept in cars, a shelter and a hotel room since they had to be rescued by boat. Parrott says her children are hearing phantom thunder storms and ask if the floodwaters are coming again when it does rain.

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The sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana is changing the start time of the parish's curfew.

Sid Gautreaux said in a news release Friday the nightly curfew will begin at midnight, instead of 10 p.m.

The curfew's end time will remain 6 a.m.

Gautreaux said the curfew is still needed to maintain the safety of residents and first responders and to provide security for homes and businesses devastated by flood waters.

The sheriff said the curfew will still allow for individuals to travel to and from work and make food, fuel and other deliveries.

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A university scientist says flooding has cost south Louisiana rice farmers an estimated $14 million in fields that were destroyed after being completely submerged.

Dustin Harrell, Louisiana State University's rice specialist, tells The Advertiser (http://bit.ly/2b6iuf2) that doesn't include yield or quality losses from rice that was damaged, but can still be harvested, nor does it include equipment and infrastructure losses.

Harrell said in some ways the damage is worse than from previous hurricanes.

He says with a hurricane the water recedes quickly, but in this case the backwater flooding is still there.

Rice farmer Richard Fontenot says his fields have been flooded five days. Harrell says crops can generally survive complete submersion about two days.

Fontenot, who farms rice and other crops, said the ultimate loss in rice will likely almost double Harrell's initial estimate.

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Even as most schools in the Baton Rouge area ready to reopen in the coming days, public schools in the hard-hit town of Central area won't reopen until after Labor Day at the earliest and perhaps later.

Central Superintendent Michael Faulk tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/2b2KamB) only one of Central's five schools, Tanglewood Elementary, sustained flooding, but it's a large school. Faulk says cleanup there should be done by the end of next week, but renovations will take longer.

The town has its own school system.

Also, roughly 60 percent of Central school employees suffered some kind of flood damage to homes or vehicles.

Faulk said he wants schools to reopen but won't rush it to the point of causing problems later.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system, the state's second largest school district, will reopen classes Wednesday.

Officials say six schools in the East Baton Rouge system sustained major damage and will remain closed after the other 70-plus schools reopen.

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Crews with Entergy-Louisiana from four states are walking through neighborhoods across south Louisiana, inspecting electrical equipment and working to re-energize lines where it is safe to do so.

As of 5 a.m. Friday, the number of customers without power due to flooding had dropped to just under 6,000 from Tuesday night's peak of more than 32,000 customers. The process of restoring power to the remaining customers will be a slow one, as customers who had received floodwaters in their homes or businesses may have to make repairs to their electrical system before power can be restored.

Customers in the Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Gonzales areas who were not flooded but who are still without power also may have to wait a little longer. Entergy said power cannot be restored to their area until all meters are inspected on their circuit as well as other devices, such as transformers and fuses.

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Victims of catastrophic floods in Louisiana's capital city say they've seen people pull together — white and black, officers and civilians — in ways that give hope amid a summertime string of tragedies.

It's been a summer of pain in greater Baton Rouge, a city rocked by the July 7 killing of black man Alton Sterling at the hands of police — then the retaliatory slayings of three officers by a black gunman. After that came deadly floods that swamped thousands of homes and claimed more than a dozen lives.

The anti-police rhetoric that followed Sterling's killing seems to have quieted somewhat, and officers once viewed with suspicion often risked their lives to rescue people in the floods.

Observers say the test will be whether a sense of unity remains once floodwaters fully recede.



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