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Louisiana Amateur Radio Emergency Service Volunteers Standing Down

08/20/2016

[UPDATED 2016-08-21@1342 UTC] In an August 20 (2116 UTC) status update on Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) operations in Louisiana, Assistant Section Manager Matt Anderson, KD5KNZ, said that Louisiana ARES is in the process of deactivating from the recent flood response, and the need for volunteers has ended.

“All ARES personnel should released by this evening,” said Anderson, who has been currently serving as the Incident Point of Contact in Baton Rouge. “Several amateurs will remain on site, reporting directly to the Red Cross as they begin to transfer to recovery operations. We greatly appreciate all the assistance from ARRL HQ and the many Sections who provided support to the operation.”

ARES volunteers in Louisiana were in the 6th day of operations in response to the recent flooding catastrophe in Louisiana, which also affected parts of Mississippi. ARES has been providing communication support to the Red Cross in five Louisiana parishes following record flooding in the state. Several shelters and Red Cross chapter offices are operating at full capacity.

Amateur Radio volunteers from Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi volunteered to serve at multiple Red Cross chapters and shelters throughout the affected area. With local and parish resources stretched to the limit, ham radio volunteers have been serving as the communication link between Red Cross shelters and command centers, relaying information on the needs at each shelter back to Red Cross offices.

Brad Kieserman, the Vice President of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the American Red Cross, called the flooding disaster “the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy, and we anticipate it will cost at least $30 million – a number which may grow as we learn more about the scope and magnitude of the devastation.”

According to estimates, more than 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, leaving tens of thousands of residents displaced. The flooding also left 13 people dead. As of early today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was reporting that about 3100 evacuees remained in Red Cross shelters. The Louisiana Emergency Operations Center remains at full activation, and more than 2800 National Guard personnel have been conducting flood relief operations around the clock.

According to FEMA, significant river flooding will persist into next week across portions of southern Louisiana, due to heavy rainfall late last week. Major flooding will mainly be along portions of the Mermentau and Vermilion rivers into next week. Backwater flooding southeast of Baton Rouge is also expected to continue into next week, especially impacting St John the Baptist, St James, Ascension, Iberville, East Baton Rouge, and Livingston parishes. 



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