Sunday, May 15, 2011

With the Morganza Spillway Now Open, Water Rushes into Atchafalaya Basin (UPDATED)

Scroll for updates

I'm going to continue an  aggregation through the day of links and information about the flooding in south Louisiana.  Rather than put up a new post each time, I'll just let this one stand as the day's growing post as I did yesterday. Just check back for updates through the day.

The New York Times has a nice piece about what it means to these people that live in the Atchafalaya Basin; so many people ask, "why would you live there if you know it will likely flood?"  An 81 year old man has the answer here.

Via WBRZ out of Baton Rouge, farmers who had crop insurance will get reimbursed:

Louisiana's agriculture commissioner says farmers who had crop insurance will get reimbursed if their crops are damaged by flooding caused by the Mississippi.  Commissioner Mike Strain said the U.S. Department of Agriculture had agreed to honor crop insurance payments for farmers with insurance that either lose crops or were unable to plant because of the flooding, in accordance with their policies.

"We're happy that USDA and FEMA have made a decision that is favorable for our producers," Strain said. "We wanted to make sure our farmers got the same deal as the Missouri farmers who lost their crops when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers artificially breeched the levee to save lives."

Here's some tips for dealing with the wildlife seeking refuge from the floods (including poisonous snakes, Black Bears, and alligators).

Here are the river stages in the Avoyelles area.  Their primary concern will be backwater flooding.  Refresh the page when you get there for latest numbers.

Via WANE, here's an AP story with commentary from local residents around Morgan City and in the flood zone.

Via The Advocate (Baton Rouge), many are dejeted, but others remain optimistic:

The Atchafalaya River was already rising toward record levels, and additional water flowing through the Morganza Spillway will only make matters worse.

“Just a little country town that don’t mean nothing,” said longtime Amelia resident Patricia Clark, who feared devastating flooding from of opening of the Morganza Spillway. “I think it will ruin this community. I think you can almost kiss everything goodbye.”

Others were more optimistic.

“We’re well protected. This is the safest place to be in Louisiana,” said Berwick Town Superintendent Allen Benoit.
Berwick, a town of about 5,000 people, sits across the Atchafalaya River from Morgan City.
And here is The Advocate's report of the opening of the spillway yesterday, including reminiscences from old timers remembering the last time the gates opened:

Soon after opening the gate, corps officials ushered the crowd away from the oncoming water and up a hill leading to the top of the structure. On the way up, several people shared stories of their experiences from 38 years ago when the spillway was first opened.

Billy Soulier, a New Roads resident who hunts in the area below the spillway, said the atmosphere back then was more like a party and less like Saturday’s stuffy media event.

“We just got on our four-wheelers and rode around,” he said. “Everybody was having a good time.”  New Roads City Councilman Kirk “Clipper” White said he and his high school friends were on the other side of the levee collecting the crawfish that were crawling out of the water looking for higher ground. 
“We didn’t have anything to carry them with, so we just picked them up by hand and threw them in the back of the pickup,” he said. “We were just doing it for entertainment. There were so many, you couldn’t give them away.”
Water is supposed to creep toward Krotz Springs today and the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to open two more gates today.  Check back for updates.

Update 11:53 a.m.:  Via CNN, a total of four gates are open now.  Two were opened this morning:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened two floodgates on the Morganza spillway Saturday, for the first time in nearly 40 years. Two additional gates were opened about 10 a.m. Sunday, the Corps said.
"At this time, we are currently monitoring the river but it is too early to know if additional gates will be opened today," Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett wrote in an e-mail to CNN.
Everyone in the areas of Krotz Springs and Melville must be out by 5:00 this afternoon.   The spillway has 125 gates and about a fourth of those are expected to be opened before this is all done.

Here's a lovely blog post with lots of swampy pictures.  Gorgeous.

An educational video on the Mississippi and the Morganza spillway from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Updated 4:51 p.m.:  Via The Dead Pelican, incredible video of the opening of the spillway from Houma Today.

In Krotz Springs, not everyone is willing to evacuate just yet.

Update 8:10 p.m.:  Via The Dead Pelican, this video of deer running from the water in the Morganza floodway area.

There are now nine gates open - five more opened today:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened five more bays Sunday evening. That brings the total to nine, of the number of bays sending water gushing from the Mississippi River into the Morganza Spillway and eventually into the Atchafalaya Basin.

And so it goes.

(Photo credit:  AP)

1 comment:

judyb said...

Thanks for the link. And thank you for providing all the flood-related links, I'm bookmarking it.