Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday's Flood in Louisiana Update (UPDATED)

Flooding continues in Louisiana even though I didn't write about it yesterday.  This is the last full week of school and I'm feeling like a zombie.  But compared to the people down south, I've got no troubles at all.  Here's a little aggregation of what's happening around the Mississippi:

From NOLA, this video update (can I just say how much I dislike "Sponsor messages" before videos...).  John Pope from the Times Picayune reports that the river has been reopened to commerce but boats can only go through the Natchez port one at a time to avoid damaging waves.  He also reports that another bay at the spillway bringing the total to 16 now.

From Fox8 news, disaster declarations:

East Feliciana, Franklin, Lafourche and Richland parishes have been added to the original 22 parishes receiving federal funding to reimburse necessary emergency protective measures for potential flooding under President Obama's emergency disaster declaration issued on May 6.

The emergency declaration authorizes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency to support all disaster relief efforts in areas of Louisiana affected by flooding beginning on April 25, 2011, and continuing. Specifically, 22 parishes were included in the declaration, authorizing FEMA to provide appropriate assistance and resources to the state to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety throughout these communities.

In addition to the four recently added parishes, the 22 parishes previously made eligible for assistance are Avoyelles, Ascension, Assumption, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, Iberia, Iberville, LaSalle, Madison, Pointe Coupee, East Baton Rouge, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Tensas, Terrebonne, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.
Via The Dead Pelican, this report from Monroe's News Star on the flooding of Mississippi River islands such as Davis Island and Fitler Bend:

Petrus said he remembers the 1973 and 2008 floods, "but they were nothing like this," he said.He's most distressed by the loss of wildlife on the islands.

"It's really sickening," Petrus said. "We've built a good deer herd on Davis Island, but the deer have either perished or won't come back.

"All of the deer, bears and turkey have either left or drowned.  The whole thing is submerged."

And for those looking for the silver lining in all this, consider this piece from Houma Today:

The state may be missing a vital opportunity to divert desperately needed fresh water and river sediment into collapsing wetlands, mimicking the floods that originally built Louisiana's vanishing wetlands, coastal advocates say.

The Mississippi River is moving 1.9 million cubic feet of water and sediment past the eroding Louisiana coast and into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the America's Wetland Foundation.  The Morganza and Bonnet Carre spillways have been opened to relieve pressure on flood-protection levees and lower Mississippi River levels to protect New Orleans and Baton Rouge. 

Morganza's resulting torrent is moving into the Atchafalaya Basin and threatens to flood homes in its path, including some in Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption and St. Mary parishes. Bonnet Carre is sending water and sediment through Lake Pontchartrain and into the Gulf.  Some coastal advocates contend the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should open existing river diversions during times of flooding and build more along upper basins to take advantage of years when the river is high and sediment-laden.
But others argue that huge coastal diversions would flood and displace residents living in the coastal communities that government should be trying to protect.

And from the Advocate, a report on the mandatory evacuation order for St. Martin parish as the Atchafalaya is expected to make a steep rise tomorrow morning.

The Atchafalaya River at Butte La Rose in St. Martin Parish has risen only about a foot since the opening of the Morganza Spillway on Saturday, but the river there is expected to begin rising about a foot or more a day beginning Thursday until reaching a crest of nearly 27 feet early Tuesday morning, according to the NWS forecast.

The water levels are expected to be record breaking.

Bobby Jindal is out looking, observing, and meeting with concerned residents.


Check out this post and map from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade blog about the oil and gas wells currently in the flood zone.

Previous updates and aggregations here.

New photo gallery. 

Update17 bays open now.
Photo credit:  Arely Castillo/The News-Star

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