EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Officials with East Baton Rouge Parish deployed HESCO baskets Saturday morning along the levee in downtown Baton Rouge ahead of rising river levels.
The baskets are being used along a small section of the downtown levee near North Street and River Road. Although the National Weather Service and US Army Corps of Engineers says there is no risk of the river over-topping, the operation provides an important learning opportunity.
HESCO installation is far faster than sandbagging and more cost efficient, too. The Corps of Engineers provided the baskets, a significant cost-savings. The install was completed in about 2-3 hours. Sandbagging the same site would have taken a day or more.
In addition, the sand can be recovered/re-used when the HESCO "sand dam" is de-commissioned. Sand bags would degrade in time, making sand recovery cost inefficient when the structure was to be removed.
The Mississippi River is forecasted to crest at 43 feet on Tuesday, March 20. The lowest point of the levee is 47.9 feet and the HESCO baskets will increase the height by another three feet. The 36-foot long wall of baskets will remain in place for the remainder of flood season.
"We know that the Mississippi River rises and falls each year for a variety of reasons. This operation is a proactive measure as we continuously monitor projections of water levels this year," said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. "I want to stress that current projections do not put water levels at risk of over-topping our levee, but I want to ensure we are over-prepared in the event of an unforeseen weather event."
Officials noted that the city-parish is prepared with 10,000 filled sandbags and 10,600 feet of inflatable water dams available as precautionary measures.
For updates on the city-parish's efforts, visit the Red Stick Ready Facebook page.