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Louisiana floods kill 11; reports of looting lead to curfew in Baton Rouge

By Andrew V. Pestano
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Louisiana floods kill 11; reports of looting lead to curfew in Baton Rouge
Flooded areas of Baton Rouge, La., are shown Monday. Some 30,000 people have had to be rescued from rising floodwaters in the region. Photo by Melissa Leake/U.S. Coast Guard/UPI | License Photo

BATON ROUGE, La., Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Reports of looting prompted officials in Baton Rouge Parish, La., to establish a curfew amid flooding that has killed 11 people and affected about 40,000 homes in the state.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux on Tuesday said he received an executive order from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to impose the curfew because Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden did not do so earlier. The curfew was put in place due to reports of looting. Other areas in Louisiana previously imposed curfews.

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The curfew, which began Tuesday night and will remain until conditions improve, is set from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. At least 14 people have been arrested in connection to looting in Baton Rouge Parish since Monday, officials said. At least eight have been arrested in connection to looting in Livingston Parish.

"As sheriff, I fully recognize that the mayor has the ability to call for a curfew. I have never questioned that authority. However, in my conversations ... he has not been willing to do that," Gautreaux said in a press conference. "That's a question he'll have to answer. I don't question his authority but I question his decision not to."

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Holden said he had "no issue whatsoever" with the curfew, but he took issue with "just the way all of this has been handled."

"I don't want to get into a back and forth about the sheriff and myself," Holden said. "I'm not going to be concerned about the politics, I'm still going to focus on the people."

In a statement following reports of looting, Holden sent a warning to all potential criminals.

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"We are not going to tolerate lawlessness of any kind or anywhere in our city," Holden wrote. "No part of our city will be unprotected. If you break the law, you will be arrested and prosecuted. The protection of our city and its citizens are top priority."

The federal government declared a major disaster in Louisiana. Edwards estimates 30 parishes -- out of 64 total in the state -- will be declared disasters. Authorities have rescued at least 30,000 people from flooded vehicles and homes.

Ascension Parish is one of the worst-hit areas in Louisiana. Nearly a third of homes in the parish have flooded after a levee was overtopped along the Amite River.

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