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Terreson Profile
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The flood of 2011.


Seems it is time to set up another environmental disaster watch. It is getting called not the 100 year flood, but the flood of many hundreds of years. All systems, levees, locks, and spillways were designed by the Army Corps of Engineers for the first kind. The 100 year flood. Everybody is nervous. Rumours are flying. Authorities contradicting each other. I heard this afternoon that Vicksburg has 160 houses under water and the river yet to crest. Memphis, so far, has escaped the worst of the flooding, providing the levees continue to hold in place. The Mississippi Delta region, its main river being the Yazoo, inundated, people getting evacuated. Everywhere, from Cairo IL south the river is backing up into tributaries. Water so high house rooftops lost to sight. A few days ago I heard that at Memphis the river was as wide as three miles when normally it is a half mile wide.

The building out of which I work is situate on the river's flood plain which extends for about three miles. Also, we are in a sharp bend of the river, meaning the river is on 3 sides. A meeting was called today to create a schedule of contingency plans. It amounted to prioritizing property and getting it out of harm's way before hand. Data, specimens and samples, important colonies, and vehicles. Plus or minus we have 10 days before the river crests locally.

There are three possible problems. Levee breaches. That would be catastrophic. River over spills. Not so catastrophic I think. And the river's water level rising up behind, landside, of the levee, creating what's called sand boils. Late this afternoon I drove to a beeyard close to the levee. Water seeping up such that I knew the road was below the river's water level.

North of my town there is a spillway called the Morganza spillway, built by the Army Corps of Engineers back in the fifties. Gates can be opened and the flooding gets diverted into the Atchafalya River basin, what forms the country's largest fresh water swamp. An area that is pretty much the heart of Cajun country. Swamp and farmland planted in rice and sugar cane and corn and seeded in crawfish ponds, and little towns, littler settlements. Sometime this weekend the spillway will be opened, maybe within 24 hours. It could mean good news for the Mississippi corridor, heavily populated and industrially intense, especially in petro chemical plants. But bad news for nature, the local flora and fauna, and bad news for Cajun country.

Here is a map. The projected flooding engineered to safeguard the Mississippi corridor.

http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/05/prepare_to_open_morganza_flood.html

Last edited by Terreson, May/15/2011, 3:04 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Tere,

I have been hearing and seeing this on the news for days but didn't connect these events with you. I had no idea you would be so directly affected.

Please take care and keep up this thread if you can. Now I will be very anxious to hear.

Chris
May/14/2011, 8:31 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


No worries, Chris. While I tend to be slightly less than sane I am not stupid enough to live on a flood plain. Sure I work on one much of the time. But my apt is in an older part of town. First settlers were smarter than modern developers tend to be. They took note of such land features as elevation and flood plains. For example, back in the Katrina flooding in N.O. the French Quarter did not flood. The oldest part of the town and the highest. Same is true here. Actually, my town is situate just below the Mississippi's southernmost bluff. It's got elevation. But you made me curious. So I pulled up Google Earth, typed in my address, got an aerial photo plus lat/long coordinates and elevation. I am at 53', which in LA makes for a mt. Estimates keep changing, but the river will not crest more than 44 to 45 feet. Good to go.

In the area where I do work, however, recent development has brought many hundreds, maybe a couple of thousands of new homes and apt. complexes. It was all once farmland rich in alluvial soil. But you know how developers are. People living there could be in trouble. And not just behind the river's levee. Anyone living along a tributary is in trouble. The Atchafalya basin will be impacted the most I think. Even worse than what has already happened in the Mississippi Delta country to the north. And this is no flash flooding either. Water will stand for weeks, go putrid with sewage and death, possibly bringing about a secondary catastrophe. Cholera.

For years, maybe a decade or longer, some have made the argument that the levee system should be taken down. River allowed back its flood plain, what serves as a sponge. But, per usual, the political will is lacking. The Army Corps of Engineers are like boys with erector sets, loving what they construct. The locals all up and down the Mississippi are not willing to give back to the river land that rightly belongs to it. So, once again, if disaster strikes it will be man-made.

I'll keep y'all up to date. I forgot to point something out last night. When looking at the map of projected flooding in the Atchafalya basin you are looking at the future course of the Mississippi. It is only an engineered system of locks and dams just north of me, near a town called St Francisville, that keeps the river in its present river bed. This for obvious commercial reasons. All the ports south of St. Francisville would become obsolete, dry up, including Baton Rouge's and N.O.'s which are major ports. But it is inevitable. Kind of ironic n'est pas? In fact there is some local concern, tinged with panic, that, once the Morganza spillway is opened, the Corps will not be able to close it again. Not exactly something you can test periodically. And it hasn't been opened and shut again since, I think, 1973.

Once again times are interesting for LA.

Tere
May/14/2011, 1:59 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/14/morganza-spillway-open-mississippi-flooding-2011_n_861912.html

Morganza spillway opened.

Tere
May/14/2011, 11:48 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


I'm glad to hear you are not in the path of the flood, Tere. Your journalism is excellent, as always. I'll be reading you as much as HuffPo.

Chris
May/15/2011, 8:02 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


The spillway getting opened as few as one of a hundred or so gates at a time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITZZBsv2x18

Article's title says it best:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/article_e48b596b-a68d-5874-8326-3325a3d7ef8e.html

Tere
May/15/2011, 1:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Thanks, Chris. Here is an excellent source for things local. The site belongs to the Times Picayune, N.O.'s newspaper. Many good photos.

Tere

http://www.nola.com/

Last edited by Terreson, May/15/2011, 5:11 pm
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Seems appropriate somehow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWmlpixV5bs

Tere
May/15/2011, 11:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Good photos. Anyone who has stood in Jackson Square, in front of the Cathedral, knows that normally you have to climb the levee to see river traffic. I am looking for updated photos of the Atchafalaya.

http://photos.nola.com/nolacom_photo_essays/2011/05/mississippi_river_flooding_pho.html

Oops. I forgot that some may not know Jackson Square is in the French Quarters, four or five blocks from Bourbon St.

On a side note. People, mostly Cajuns, who live in the Atchafalaya basin system are not whining, complaining, or pissed. Some even thank the Army Corps of Engineers for going slow with opening the Morganza spillway gates. This way, they say, wildlife has a chance of getting out of harm's way.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, May/17/2011, 7:15 pm
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Katlin Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Hi Tere,

What is happening along the Mississippi is hard for me to imagine. We've had rain and some flooding here in the Northeast, but it is nothing compared to what you are, or will be, seeing.
May/18/2011, 3:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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Yeah, Kat. Awesome is a word emptied of value through trivialization. Unbelievable another such word. So is catastrophic. Awe-full is all I can come up with to measure something almost unmeasurable.

Up in MS the main of the flooding is coming from tributaries that normally feed into the River. With no place to go they are backing up, spreading over low lands. No one knows exactly how many houses have been partially or completely submerged. But the # is in the thousands. Down here the Atchafalaya bears the brunt, getting sacrificed, in my view, to save the River's urban-industrial corridor. Things will never change when it comes to people. They will always place themselves first in value. What a sorry lot the species is, and giving back nothing to the earth in comparison to what nature gives.

The prediction keeps changing, mostly because of the Morganza spillway doing its job by relieving pressure off the River. Last I heard, this morning, locally the River crests tomorrow at 44.8 ft, down from the earlier prediction of 45 ft. I recently learned there is a bend in the river immediately south of the bend where I work, on river's opposite side, not entirely levee protected. It has to have flooded by now. Today while working in two beeyards just behind the levee I saw something I rarely see. The masts and pilot houses of ships steaming down. And so much standing water landside. Not just ditches but pastures with standing water. Can't remember the last time it rained.

Tere
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Terreson Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Algiers is on the west bank of N.O. A decidedly poor side of town.

http://photos.nola.com/4500/gallery/high_mississippi_water_at_algiers_point_/index.html

And this of the Atchafalaya basin. Waters expected to rise 25 ft.

http://photos.nola.com/4500/gallery/farmland_flooded_in_the_morganza_floodway_may_18_2011/index.html

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, May/18/2011, 7:13 pm
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19 May, 2011. Today the River crests locally at 44.8 ft. .2 ft less than what was projected prior to the opening further north of the Morganza spillway. Crest expected to remain until 1 June. Expected to drop to 40 ft no earlier than 15 June. Of the spillway's 100 bays, or gates, to date 17 have been opened. The Corps says it will eventually open a quarter of the bays. The figure I heard this morning on the radio is that still the River is flowing at the rate of 114 thousand cubic feet per second. Now the report gets personal.

Upthread I said I work on the River's floodplain. I call the installation out of which I work the plantation. Google Earth shows that it is situate at an elevation of 18 ft. I also noted that it is on a point of land, a bend in the River. It is called Duncan Point. Google Earth also indicates that where I work, some three miles from the River as the crow flies, is lower than the land immediately behind the levee itself, which has an elevation of 25 ft. I think I've said I have bee yards along the historic River Road that runs with the River, all within a twenty minute drive from the plantation. Finally, I've noted having observed standing water landside of the levee along the road. And not just along the road but in the pastures extending from it. Yesterday I passed by a pool of water a good 3/4 mile from the levee that is the floor plan size of a three bedroom house. It seems I've been watching what the officials have been watching too. That the River has been coming up landside of the levee on Duncan Point.

Effective this afternoon the leg of River Road I need access to for my yards is closed. The Corps has come in to shore up or, I guess, mend the levee portions letting in the seepage. Problems on the point arose in the flood of '08. But River Road was never closed then.

I need to get to one yard especially. Tomorrow.

Tere.
May/19/2011, 7:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Hope you made it to that beeyard today, Tere, and all was well.
May/20/2011, 3:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Terreson Profile
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I did. I edged between the barricades. I figured I could claim local traffic status. But for a couple of tractors, one hauling in hay, the only vehicles I saw were Parrish deputies patrol cars. Three cars or the same car thrice. One came up into the farm where the yard is located.

This just heard on the 6P news report. A line of about 20 barges was lost control of by their tug. Barges slammed into one of the two bridges crossing the River in my town. US Hway 190. Three barges, all carrying corn, sank. A five mile stretch now closed. So my question is this. The River is flowing at something like 114 thousand cubic feet per second. How could any tug captain think he or she could control 20 ocean going barges in such a current?

Tere
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Re: The flood of 2011.


Thinking on the Mississippi. Posted first in our Music and Dance forum. It belongs here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVPlDG7RKjg&feature=related

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, May/22/2011, 5:50 pm
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Finally I get it. My town is pressed hard. Mississippi flooding, 2011.

The problem: America is possessed of a conceit it can bend Nature to its will. This in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Hubris. Hubris is a sin against Nature not one civilization has outlasted. Not one.

Terreson
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Drove west, today, on U.S. HWY 190 as far as Opelousas.

Crossing the Mississippi, river within 10 ft of levee's top. Entering the Morganzas spillway maybe 25 or 30 miles south of where the gates got opened, driving on raised roadbed and on a a 10 mile stretch of bridgework. Water level 6 to 8 ft, some dirt roads to the side submerged. Atchafalaya River. River high up the levees. Current hard enough to create eddies and whirpools on south side of bridge pylons. Atchafalaya floodway dry. So gates, levees, and spillway doing their job. A few days ago the report is that the Mississippi is flowing at a rate of 114 thousand cubic feet per second

Tere
May/26/2011, 5:55 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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