Map shows projected flooding if Morganza Spillway opens

Published: May. 7, 2011 at 9:01 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2011 at 2:11 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A request has been made to the Mississippi River Commission to open the Morganza Spillway. If the commission approves it, the anticipated opening date is May 12.

The Army Corps of Engineers released a map Saturday showing what could happen if the Morganza Spillway is opened.

Sections of Iberville, St. Mary, and Terrebonne parishes could get up to five feet of water.

WAFB weathercaster Jeff Morrow said the Corps map shows the worst case scenarios. The Corps said the map is only a prediction.

"As floodwaters progress through the Morganza Floodway to the Gulf of Mexico, the height of the water could reach between five and upwards of 25 feet above ground elevation, causing widespread flooding and inundation," the Corps said in a news release. "Notification will be given in advance with adequate time for evacuation; however, expeditious action must be taken to protect life and property."

The Mississippi River is continuing to swell at near historic levels, not seen since 1927. One of the ways the Corps can reduce the amount of flooding and impacts of the high water is by opening spillways that fall under the Mississippi River Commission's authority.

"Morganza Floodway is only operated when existing conditions, combined with predicted stages and discharges, indicate that mainline levees in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and other downstream communities will be subjected to unacceptable risk from high water," the news release said. "The decision to open Morganza is the responsibility of the Mississippi River Commission President Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, commander of the Corps' Mississippi Valley Division in Vicksburg, Mississippi."

Operation of the Morganza Floodway would require the evacuation of people and livestock, and removal of personal belongings for communities within the Atchafalaya River Basin, the Corps said.

The Corps is monitoring weather conditions and river conditions to determine if the spill should be opened.

Click here to see the latest map released by the Corps

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