The first levee has failed in Louisiana. The Mississippi River continues to rise and now officials throughout the area are concerned other levees will not hold unless they take pressure off the entire system. How are they going to do that? They have made the decision to open the Morganza Spillway for the first time in 38 years.
Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers explain the action is a trade-off between two bad situations. On the one side, if the spillway is left closed, levees could fail all along the river putting many more homes and a greater land area at risk. By opening the Morganza Spillway, they are protecting more homes in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas, as well as the chemical and oil refineries in the area.
By opening the spillway, officials are going to sacrifice the homes and structures of about 25000 to save the homes and businesses of the 344,000 living in New Orleans and Baton Rouge’s 230,000. It seems like a great deal for those living in the cities, but for the Cajuns living in the low-lying lands south of the Morganza Spillway, the situation is a little more grim.
In an area of approximately 3000 square miles, the water from the river will rush in, as high as 20 feet, to cover everything in its path. Those 25000 living in the area, will loose about 11000 homes or structures. They will loose their small farms, their fishing concerns, their homes, and their small businesses.
Governor Bobby Jindal, speaking to many via television, said now is the time for those in the low-lying areas to pack in preparation of leaving. He said it is time to execute their emergency plans, because “the water is coming.”
Officials expect to open the spillway tomorrow, as the waters of the Mississippi continue to rise. As the Corps of Engineers prepares to do what they have to, many in the low-lying area are hoping against hope the opening of the spillway will not happen. It is a very serious bet on which many are literally betting everything they own.
As those who live in the area continue praying the spillway remains closed and quiet, many more in America join them with their prayers for the best outcome possible. We, too, offer our best to those in peril at this time.
© 2011 J. Clark