Spillway Opening Fails to Ease Flooding Fears in Louisiana
t seemed, on the face of things, to make sense: The first gate of the Morganza Spillway opened on Saturday afternoon, sending 10,000 cubic feet of Mississippi River water churning south toward the Atchafalaya Basin, all part of a concerted effort to help relieve pressure on burdened levees protecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans. By late Sunday morning, a total of four had been opened.
But Bayou residents can be forgiven for wondering just how well-conceived the Army Corps’ latest plan is, no matter how many mathematical models have gone into it. After all, the river crest that wasn’t supposed to hit Baton Rouge until May 22 is now scheduled to arrive on its doorstep Monday, albeit two feet lower than previously anticipated. And though there have been reassurances in recent weeks that the region’s levees would hold, locals do wonder what would happen if a barge broke free and slammed into one of these stressed floodwalls mere months before hurricane season were to begin. Before the Morganza was opened on Saturday afternoon, in fact, 25 barges drifted loose on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, two of them slamming into an bridge. The barges have been corralled and the bridge has been reopened, but as the Army Corps moves water away from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, it’s clear that concerns about this stretch of river will remain as high as the water levels for the next few weeks.
COMMENT: Prayers for all in the floods path.