From a press release out of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office today…
Governor Jindal held a press conference today following a UCG meeting of state and federal officials about the rising Miss. River levels, announcing that Gen. Walsh of the Corps of Engineers expects to officially open the Morganza Spillway over the weekend.
Governor Jindal said, “Based on what we heard from Gen. Walsh in a phone call today, it is extremely likely that the Morganza Spillway will open by tomorrow night or Sunday at the latest. The General will have a meeting with his engineers at 2PM today and then call me with another update at that time and possibly give us the official notification of the opening.
“We have already notified the Sheriffs and the National Guard of those areas we expect to be impacted and to move forward on their work to get notices to those who will be impacted inside the Spillway. We also have assets staged by DOTD and LDWF in order to help those who may need assistance in high waters.
“While we still do not have an official notification from General Walsh at this time, he indicated it is extremely likely that the Spillway will be open today or tomorrow and we want people to take action now.
“When the Spillway is opened, it will not be fully opened all at once. The Spillway has a capacity of 600,000 cubic feet per second and the Corps expects to operate it at half of its full capacity, slowly opening a few gates at a time.”
To the people inside the Morganza Spillway, the Governor stressed the importance of the Corps’ expected timeline to operate the Spillway. Governor Jindal said, “If you live in the Spillway, now is the time to activate your evacuation plan. Listen to your local officials and Sheriffs. Don’t delay. Don’t hope that something will change. Given what the Corps is telling us, our people need to take action now as if the Spillway is opening tomorrow or Sunday. Again, it is very likely to be opened over the weekend. Take action now. Look at the inundation maps and if you are in an area likely to be impacted, start to move your belongings or animals now. The most important update we want to give this morning is that it is extremely likely the Spillway will be opened as soon as tomorrow or as late as Sunday. The Corps will talk directly to the media as they gather more data, but we want people to take action now.”
STATE PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS
In support of parishes threatened by the opening of the Morganza Spillway, National Guardsmen continue to work with parish officials to conduct door-to-door notifications and area evacuations. The National Guard currently has 700 activated guardsmen. DOTD has 171 staff members and 140 trucks and equipment actively deployed in flood prevention
The National Guard continues to plan for Search and Rescue operations with Wildlife and Fisheries, State Police, and other agency partners, should they be needed. The Louisiana National Guard continues to coordinate with the Coast Guard on aerial overflights of the Morganza floodway.
Assumption Parish: Yesterday, National Guard crews assisted Assumption Parish in assessing levee heights in the vicinity of Bayou L’ourse and identified areas for a Tiger Dam installation project. DOTD delivered 124 cubic yards of sand to help construct a 700 foot sand barrier along La. 663 in Assumption Parish. This brings the total to 160 cubic yards of sand delivered in addition to the previously delivered 750 linear feet of HESCO baskets. This barrier will ensure floodwaters do not inundate La. 663 as well as protect nearby neighborhoods.
East Baton Rouge Parish: Today, DOTD began construction of a 1,000 linear foot flood barrier to keep water from flowing into U.S. 190 pump station. In support of these construction efforts, DOTD is closing the east and westbound outside right lanes of U.S. 190 at the Old Mississippi River Bridge until further notice. This closure will allow thru traffic in the left hand lane only. E. Baton Rouge Parish officials are laying two miles of Tiger Dam for extra two feet of levee protection along the mainline levee downtown.
St. Landry Parish: Yesterday, National Guardsmen assisted the parish and DOTD in construction of over 300 feet of levee in Krotz Springs which brings to total effort to 2,100 feet to date (Total project will be 10,000 feet). Today, OCPR is also providing 5,000 feet of Super Bag material in order to provide additional height to the levee protection. Over the weekend, DOTD will lay down 9,000 feet of six-foot RIB (large sandbag material) to help complete the levee structure there. This morning, DOTD deployed 50 trucks to haul reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and sand to Krotz Springs in St. Landry Parish to be utilized in the construction of a flood protection barrier. DOTD already utilized approximately 410 cubic yards in RAP materials to build a 300 linear foot base. HESCO baskets will be placed on top of the newly laid RAP base to construct a barrier wall to protect residents from floodwaters.
St. Mary Parish: The Louisiana National Guard continues construction of 20,000 feet of HESCO barrier in order to fortify and elevate levees along Lake Palourde to prevent backwater flooding in Morgan City and Amelia.
- Morgan City worksite: Working 24 hour operations, National Guard crews stretched and filled over 5,700 LF of HESCO barrier to date and continue construction today with a projected completion date of 14 May. (Total Project is 11,000 feet).
- Amelia worksite: As of last night, crews placed 2,700 feet of HESCO barrier. (Total Project will be 9,000 feet). Today, the Louisiana National Guard continues the construction and installation of this protection barrier and will begin 24-hour operations.
DOTD hauled 840 cubic yards of sand in its efforts to support LANG in the construction of a flood protection wall for the town of Amelia. Additionally, DOTD deployed 20 trucks to haul material to the site. Today, DOTD will provide 3 dozers to assist St Mary parish in raising existing levees to an appropriate flood protection height.
Avoyelles Parish: An additional 2,250 cubic yards of fill material has been hauled by DOTD to reinforce the Hamburg Loop/Big Bend levee along La. 451, which brings the total material hauled to date at 6,346 cubic yards. A total of 16 DOTD dump trucks have been dedicated to this effort, which is should be complete today.
Madison Parish: Today, DOTD delivered 50 barricades to Madison Parish for staging.
Morganza Spillway: DOTD hauled an additional 200 cubic yards of sand in stabilization efforts on the south Morganza Floodway guide levee. To date, DOTD has hauled 1,030 cubic yards of sand to help fight the seepage that is starting to occur in this area.
St. Martin Parish announced that Stephensville Elementary will be closed beginning Tuesday, May 17 and will remain closed for the remainder of the year. The voluntary evacuation there and water on roads is making it difficult for bus routes. The schools in upper St. Martin Parish will remain open.
Concordia Parish: In Vidalia, the state provided 22,500 feet of HESCOs for protection efforts underway on the Vidalia waterfront. An additional 4500 linear feet of protection measures are currently pre-staged in key areas along the Mississippi River in this region. Yesterday, National Guardsmen assisted in the identification of 19 additional Sand or Pin Boils in Concordia Parish bringing the total found in the parish to 39.
East Carroll Parish: 7,500 cubic yards of sand has been loaded and hauled to support sandbagging operations in North Louisiana. Seven dump trucks, a front end loader and transport vehicles are filling and transporting 53,000 sandbags to address fortification efforts in support of levee district and parish requests. Currently, the state has 45 personnel, 11 trucks, one lowboy and a front-end loader in support of flood-fighting and levee inspection efforts.
An estimated more than 10,000 acres of farmland north of Lake Providence is being inundated as a result of overtopping of an old levee. This is not a mainline river levee. Previously, National Guardsmen have identified 46 Sand Boils in East Carroll Parish and 4 in Tensas Parish.