2016 Flood Devastation

Patricia M. Arledge, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  9/14/2016 2:22:28 PM

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News Article for August 22, 2016:

Wow! It is the only word that I can think of to describe the flooding devastation I have seen. Mountains of people’s possessions line the streets.

I have seen the other historic floods here before and have been a part of the restoration so I am certainly seasoned, but the magnitude of this is overwhelming.

It makes you realize what is truly important. Many of us have worried about our love ones that we could not get to and who were displaced and unaccounted for a while. In most cases we were reunited and even with great personal loss we find great joy in their safety and company.

Once you have your personal property set up to dry and are waiting for the next stage of recovery, take a look at your shrubs and small trees. They are very low on my list of priorities but I could not help but notice the silt that covered all the shrubs everywhere I helped. You need to get the silt off of the shrubs with a little water pressure from your water hose. We have received several big showers since the flood but it has not removed all of the silt, so wash it off with water. This will allow the plants to get sunlight and manufacture energy for the plant.

Root rots are always a problem after floods. The roots of a plant actually breathe and when the soil is covered in water all oxygen is eliminated. Ironically a plant that dies from root rot will usually look like it ran out of water. The roots slough off and then the plant has no capacity to uptake water and nutrients.

Initially if you have a plant that drops its leaves or turns brown take a wait and see attitude. It is too late in the year to prune so I would not. Many plants might go into shock and drop their leaves and still be alive. You can take your fingernail or the side of knife blade and gently scrape back the bark on a twig and see if you have a green layer under the bark. If the cambium layer is green, the plant is still alive. Wait for the plant even if it takes until next spring.

Do not fertilize your shrubs or lawn now. It is too late in the year to stimulate growth.

I am very optimistic that lawns will survive the floods based on previous experiences but I am not so sure about how long they will survive under tons of debris and no sunlight. In September I would apply potash to help winterize the lawn and give more root strength and stress resistance to help make it through the winter. Use only potash, not nitrogen. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use 1 to 2 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60) per 1000 ft² of lawn area.

After stressful events like floods you might see your fruit trees bloom in the fall or your spring blooming plants flower. Plants shut down and go into survival mode during these events. After the flood waters recede and they start back up after their mini-dormancy, plants will act like they have been through winter and reset their clock for spring activities.

Through my small window to the trauma this flood has brought I am amazed at the resiliency and resolve of the people in our community. We are a tenacious bunch and we will come out stronger on the other side.

Be safe as you put the pieces back together.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.
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