5.13.2011

Mississippi Rising; Can We Dodge This Bullet?

I don't know; I just don't know.
This picture was taken in 2008. Notice that if the water had gone all the way on top of the levee, how far above the houses and road (and cars) it would be? What looks like the River, is actually not the River...the River is about a quarter or half a mile off to the left. Where you see water now, is usually a nice grassy little valley. What is considered "flood stage" is when the water goes past it's banks and then sits next to the levee, like in this picture. Then all it has to do is rise and rise, foot by foot, creeping up and threatening to overflow if something isn't done.
That year, they opened the Bonnet Carre' Spillway, which helped. Today, the water is sitting just as high (much higher today); they've opened the same spillway, but it hasn't helped, because the real flood is still some ways north of Baton Rouge. The flood waters aren't even here yet, and are expected to be a whole lot worse than this. This levee just might overflow, and most likely will, if they don't open the Morganza Spillway, just north of Baton Rouge.
I see on television, places like the Weather Channel, that they are saying that many thousands of acres will be flooded if they open that spillway. The Achafalaya River Basin with it's levee system was built for just that purpose. Way back in the day, they built the levees all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and made the people who lived there move. They didn't want anyone living there because whenever they opened the Morganza Spillway, that's where the water was supposed to go on it's way to the Gulf. It's never been used for that purpose, tho'. It's only been opened once, and that was to help balance some water level at some other place. (I've heard conflicting stories about this; however.)If they opened this spillway now, it would be the first time for any flood to go down it.
Since there has never been a very bad flood, people have gotten complacent and have built or planted inside the levees. Camps and 'squatter' homes. Yep, they'd get inundated for sure, most likely. But this year, the water volume is so extremely high, that the water would not only fill the 23 mile wide and (I don't know how long...from north of Baton Rouge, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico) Achafalaya flood plain, but the water would also overflow even those levees, and take on towns and villages, not to mention farm land.
What to do, what to do? As I said, the real flood water is not even here and already the levee system below the Baton Rouge to New Orleans is being stressed and is 'leaking'. Here in South Louisiana, we've been suffering a drought. Rain has gone to the north of us. The soil is dry deep down.
I remember one time in Rochester, NY when there was a drought situation. No-one thought much about it, til the Spring rains came and the Genensee River rose. The high water hit the dry river banks and a big section collapsed, taking part of Scottsville Road with it.
Where this picture, above, was taken, the 'point' is not only "pointing" to those houses sitting in the shadow of the levee, but also toward our town, an half a mile away. Whenever the Huge mass of flood water comes roaring down the river, and hits this dried out, and thus weakened levee "arrow", it just might give way. It's Cappy's opinion that all will be well, and I sure hope he's right. Me, I'm not so sure. Do I bite the bullet, wait and see, or "get the heck outa Dodge"?
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