State leaders discuss threat of flooding along Miss. River, Jindal issues state of emergency

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State leaders discussed concerns about the possible impacts that a rising Mississippi River could cause down the road.

Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a state of emergency Wednesday due to the threat of flooding along the Mississippi River and other bodies of water across Louisiana. He said the threat of flooding along the Mississippi and Red rivers is imminent.

Jindal sat down with top state emergency leaders and Governor-elect John Bel Edwards Wednesday evening.

The river is forecast to be slightly below what it was in 2011. Conditions along the river farther north have raised concerns for the river's levels in Louisiana in the coming weeks.

Experts said what would normally come down as snow fell as rain this year and the water will take weeks instead of months to arrive in Louisiana.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a flood warning along the length of the Mississippi River.

"We just need to really make sure that people understand one that this is going to be a significant flood event, and secondly, it's going to be long term," said Suzanne Cooten with the NWS. "We're calling for a crest on the Atchafalaya to be like January 20 to 24 and so with that, it's going to be all the month of January. Unfortunately, the state of Louisiana's going to see impacts."

"I think we'll need to start looking at 2011 as the guide to what they should be looking at in this event," said GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis. "I think if you flooded then, you should be preparing to look at flooding possibly in this event as well."

Experts said they will likely open the Bonnet Carre Spillway, but they are still unsure about the Morganza Spillway. They only mentioned the possibility of opening one gate at Morganza.

The flooding up north has already prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to open one of the three structures that make up the Old River Control system, a complex that sits about fifty miles northwest of Baton Rouge.

Two of the structures operate around the clock to stop the Atchafalaya River from overtaking the Mississippi.

The Corps only opens Old River Overbank Structure when the water levels at a nearby gauge are on track to hit 52 feet.

This is only the third time it has been opened since 1990, with the most recent back in March.

Officials continue to monitor levels and will provide updates as needed.

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