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After cresting at just over 13 feet during the historic August flooding, water levels in the "bowl" of Bluff Swamp/Spanish Lake continue to fall. However, the rate the water is going down remains frustratingly slow for many residents in the area.
As of the second weekend in September, a quick survey suggested that water was now out of just about all of the homes impacted by the flooded swamp. However, access to some of these homes still requires the use of hip-waders, small boats, and high-rise vehicles.
For some of the flooded residents around the swamp, this past weekend offered the first opportunity to get into their dwellings. That's a full four weeks after the water started to rise.
As of Monday, Sept. 12, water levels on the swamp side of Alligator Bayou Road, which was originally constructed to serve as the swamp's levee, have dropped just 3 feet since the water rose to 13 feet on August 19.
That's in spite of the installation of pumps several weeks ago, followed by the controlled levee "cut" to draw down the flooded swamp. The cut remains open and water continues to drain from the swamp and flow down Bayou Manchac and into the Amite River, but at a very slow rate.
Even with the engineered efforts to drain the swamp, the water level at the base of the levee near the "cut" has dropped less than a foot over the last seven days. The USGS water-level gage (labeled "Bluff Swamp near Kleinpeter, LA") was reporting a level of 10.0 feet as of Monday, Sept. 12 at 8 a.m.
What do these water levels represent? By comparison, that very same USGS gage never topped 4.0 feet during the four weeks prior to August's flooding rains. Readily available data for that site back to mid-May shows that the station never reached a level of 6.0 feet during that time.
While residential and business salvage operations are underway, it could be a couple of weeks before water levels fall enough to drain all of the water off normally dry properties.