Mississippi floods: Louisiana gates open to save cities

Mississippi River Nasa image
This image provided by NASA Saturday May 14, 2011 and taken by an Expedition 27 crew member aboard the International Space Station May 12, 2011 clearly showing the outlines of some heavily flooded agricultural fields on the Missouri side of the Mississippi river. The center point for this frame is just north of Caruthersville, Mo. and west of Ridgely, Tenn. North is towards the lower right corner of the image. (AP Photo/NASA)

Click HERE to watch video from the BBC

Corps spokesman Col Ed Fleming said: “It’s a historic day, not only for the entire Mississippi River but for the state of Louisiana”.

“Today’s the first day in the history of our nation that we have had three floodways open.”

Morganza Spillway

The Morganza Spillway - file photo
  • Built in 1954 to relieve flood pressure on Mississippi River
  • Last opened in 1973
  • 20 miles (32.2km) long
  • 125 gates release up to 600,000 cubic feet/sec (17,000 cubic metres/sec)

Mississippi River Floodgate Opens, Inundating Cajun Country in Louisiana
Morganza floodway was opened Saturday, sending torrents of brown water from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya River basin, a move designed to spare Baton Rouge andNew Orleans.

The spillway gates were opened as the National Weather Service forecast the river’s flow at Baton Rouge would exceed 1.62 million cubic feet per second, exceeding the 1.5 million cubic feet per second the city’s levees were designed to withstand.

Within 20 minutes, several square miles of the Atchafalaya River basin were submerged.

The corps expects to release 150,000 cubic feet per second from the Morganza, about 310 river miles above New Orleans. The spillway, built in 1954 and not opened since 1973, can release 600,000 cubic feet per second of water at maximum capacity. It may send enough water to fill a football field 10 feet deep every second across the heart of what is known as Cajun country, eventually filling an area almost as large as Connecticut.

About 2,500 people and 2,000 structures are within the spillway and another 22,500 and 11,000 buildings are vulnerable when the waters rise, according to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Inside the threatened area are 2,264 wells that each day produce 19,278 barrels of crude oil, about 10 percent of Louisiana’s onshore total, and 252.6 million cubic feet of natural gas, according to the state.-taken from Bloomberg.com

World's 3rd largest watershed; drainage basin for 41% of US
Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official, tells reporters Friday, May 13, 2011, that the tough decisions being made to deal with the current Mississippi River flooding were put in motion decades ago, during a news conference that traveled along the Yazoo River in front of the Vicksburg, Miss., downtown flood walls . The water level is not expected to crest in Vicksburg until Thursday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

This Fox News article and video report stunned me. I drive across the Mississippi River each time I fly to Memphis to visit my parents in Northeast Arkansas. On any normal day the Mighty Mississippi River is impressive, but seeing it swollen to approximately 3 miles wide is incredulous! The last time we were there, we stopped by St. Jude’s Children Hospital to see a friend. St. Jude’s is very near the huge glass pyramid building in the video.

The following Fox News video shows the path of water flow from the spillway through many familiar towns, including Melville!
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com.  Click HERE for pics from the BBC.        Fox News Photo Slideshow here.

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