As of Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers had opened nine of the 125 bays in the Morganza spillway. The nine bays that were opened in the spillway are diverting around 90 thousand cubic feet of water per second. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was urging citizens in the Morganza area to start preparing for the inevitable evacuation.
On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t have an exact time when they would be opening the spillway; yet most knew the choice was unavoidable. Citizens in the Morganza area had been urged by the state’s governor to start taking measures to protect their homes from the flood waters and prepare to be given notice to evacuate.
The Mississippi River was continuing to rise from additional rain that fell in the lower Ohio River Valley two weeks ago. New Orleans and Baton Rouge city areas were in danger of flooding from the rising waters of the Mississippi; despite the Army Corps previous attempts to take some of the pressure off the river.
Much to the protest of area farmers, the Army Corps of Engineers tried diverting the flood waters by demolishing a southeastern Missouri levee. A week ago the Army Corps opened the Bonnet Carre floodway in another attempt to lower the rapidly rising waters and protect the city areas.
Opening the Morganza spillway is not without consequences though; 25 thousand residents, 13 thousand homes and businesses (including two oil refineries) and millions of acres in farmland, hunting and fishing camps, and wildlife areas are being flooded.
After several meetings, crunching the numbers and more meetings the Army Corps of Engineers decided that not opening the spillway would cause far more damage to the people, land and economy, then opening the Morganza to relieve the pressure of the still flooding Mississippi River. This morning, two additional gates where opened, causing a massive amount of water to rush through the area. Only 11 of 125 gates have been relieved of this pressure and plans of more being opened are in the near future.
Only about 29 percent of Louisianan’s have flood insurance; down 11 percent from the amount of insured households during hurricane Katrina.