Monday, May 16, 2011

Morganza Spillway opens, residents evacuate

Janis Easch in Third Age: After the Morganza Spillway was opened this weekend, thousands of residents of Louisiana towns along the Mississippi River were evacuating and many tried to protect their homes from rising waters, officials said.

… Many residents were forced to evacuate because of a government decision to divert water from the Mississippi into south central Louisiana to spare the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans from severe flooding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened floodgates at the Morganza spillway, diverting water to Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin. Early Monday, the corps opened nine gates, agency spokesman Ricky Boyett said.

The plan is to release water from as many as a quarter of the spillway's 125 bays. The controlled release lowered projected flood levels for five communities where the corps maintains monitoring gauges, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans, 115 miles southeast of the spillway, CNN reported, But the decision may affect nearly 4,000 people who live along the river in the Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

Authorities in Louisiana's St. Landry Parish issued a mandatory evacuation order that affected about 2,000 people, CNN reported. Residents in other areas were under a voluntary evacuation, with authorities encouraging but not ordering them to leave. Floodwaters were expected to cut a path about 20 miles wide that will flow down the Atchafalaya Basin in the coming days, from Morganza, La., to the Gulf of Mexico, Gannett News Service said…

The Morganza Spillway in 1973, US Army Corps of Engineers photo

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