With homes underwater in Louisiana, recovery teams head out

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Flooding from the swelling Red River put hundreds of homes and farmland underwater or in danger in rural northwest Louisiana, and state officials said Thursday that they would seek a federal disaster declaration to get help for residents.

Recovery teams were heading to the area to assess damage spreading as floodwaters from storms in neighboring Oklahoma and Texas overwhelmed the river. At Shreveport, the Red was about 6 feet above flood stage.

Firm numbers on homes and businesses affected weren't available, but the recovery teams hope to get that data, officials said. Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives are expected in the Shreveport-Bossier City area next week.

"We want to make sure everything is done to help people and communities impacted by the Red River flooding," said Kevin Davis of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The National Weather Service says river levels will remain high for several weeks. Rain is forecast over the next couple of days and the river could go up slightly, said Lisa May, of the weather service office in Shreveport.

In Caddo Parish, an estimated 300 buildings have had power cut off, are threatened by water or have water inside, according to the Sheriff's Office.

In Bossier Parish, officials said two or three dozen houses and about the same number of mobile homes are flooded.

Downriver in Natchitoches Parish, homeland security officials said about 50 houses have flooded, but some are unoccupied. Another 200 houses and camps are threatened.

Rapides Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Sonya Wiley-Gremillion was out Thursday touring areas already underwater.

She said at least two homes in the Rigolette area have water inside them. Some camps around the parish have had utilities disconnected because of high water, she said.

At Shreveport, the river had dropped half a foot from Wednesday's reading of 37.14 feet s of 7 a.m. Thursday. The flood stage there is 30 feet.

Downriver at Coushatta, the river will crest Friday at 42.5 feet. The flood stage there is 33 feet.

The river is expected to crest at Alexandria on Monday at 38 feet, six feet above flood stage.

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