In what has been called the worst U.S. natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy, waters are finally receding in southern Louisiana from the recent devastating historic floods.

The Olympic Games and presidential election have curtailed media coverage of the floods that resulted in 13 deaths and damaged some 111,000 homes. Reports indicate that more than 11,000 people have been placed in homeless shelters. Disaster aid is being provided by the federal government through FEMA and the Red Cross.

The flooding occurred after heavy rain hit Baton Rouge and Lafayette with reported downpours of up to 2 to 3 inches an hour. Some areas saw as much as 20 inches of rain.

Flooding started Aug. 12 in areas along the Amite and Comite rivers in southern Louisiana. At least 10 rivers in several parishes over flowed, prompting a declaration of a state of emergency for Louisiana.

President Barack Obama visited the area this week amid criticism that he waited too long to come. Tuesday, the president toured a flood-affected neighborhood in East Baton Rouge Parish and spoke with federal, state and local officials about the response and assistance efforts. Obama declared more than a dozen parishes a disaster area Aug. 14.

“As I think anybody who can see just the streets, much less the inside of the homes here, people’s lives have been upended by this flood,” Obama said. “Local businesses have suffered some terrible damage. Families have, in some cases, lost homes.”

The president added that more than 100,000 people have applied for federal assistance so far and that federal support has reached $127 million. The support will fund temporary rental assistance, essential home repairs and flood insurance payments.

“Sometimes, once the floodwaters pass, people’s attention spans pass,” he said. “This is not a one-off. This is not a photo op issue. This is, how do you make sure that a month from now, three months from now, six months from now, people still are getting the help that they need. I need all Americans to stay focused on this.”

The area where most of the damage occurred was not labeled a high flood risk area; thus, many of the homeowners did not have flood insurance. Homeowners with damage from the floods in several parishes are eligible for up to $33,000 in federal disaster aid.

Thousands of residents in the area continue to stay in shelters. In a televised interview, resident Sheneka Ealy said she and her six children were rescued by boat and are now homeless and staying in a shelter.

“I see what the people went through in Katrina,” she said. “It came up so fast, you couldn’t get anything to get out. Cars were under, trucks were under. Where you go from here, you don’t know. Hopefully, soon I’ll be able to go to my house, but what am I going to be able to go home to? No beds. No television, no food. If you can go home, what could you go home to?”

The Red Cross said this week that funds are “urgently needed” to help people in Louisiana. Volunteers across nearly half of the state of Louisiana are helping thousands of people who have lost everything they own but the organization reports a significant gap in funds raised.

“This intense storm wasn’t given a name, but it affected as many as 110,000 homes in Louisiana and has changed countless lives forever,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “The situation in Louisiana remains critical. People need help, and they need it now. The Red Cross is providing for immediate needs like food and shelter, and will be there during the cleanup and recovery.”

To help people affected by the Louisiana floods, visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.