[Posted at 4:10 p.m. ET Saturday] The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday afternoon opened the first of potentially several bays of the Morganza spillway, a flood-control structure along the Mississippi River about 115 miles northwest of Louisiana.
The move - which is likely to be followed by several other bays opening in the next few days - is intended to minimize damage in the region due to excessively high water levels in the river, even as it leads to flooding in the thousands of acres.
[Posted at 7:42 a.m. ET Saturday] The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could open the Morganza Spillway as early as Saturday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said. The move would flood parts of low-lying southern Louisiana.
The Mississippi River Commission has directed the Corps to operate the crucial spillway once river flows reach a certain trigger: 1.5 million cubic feet per second. Projections indicate the tipping point could be hit as early as Saturday evening, Jindal has said.
Opening the spillway would lower anticipated cresting levels along the lower Mississippi River and divert water from Baton Rouge and New Orleans but would flood much of low-lying south-central Louisiana. Seven parishes are expected to be affected by the opening - Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Martin, Iberia, Iberville, St. Mary and Terrebonne - according to the Corps.
Earlier this week, Jindal predicted that if the Morganza Spillway were to open, 3,900 people and 2,600 structures would be impacted by the high water.FULL STORY