New "doomsday scenario" map from the Corps explained

Published: May. 12, 2011 at 2:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2011 at 2:11 PM CDT
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N.O. District Inundation Map Scenario 2 (Source: US Army Corps of Engineers)
N.O. District Inundation Map Scenario 2 (Source: US Army Corps of Engineers)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a map labeled "Scenario 2" Thursday morning that delivers a doomsday outlook for flooding on the east bank of the Mississippi River, showing unprecedented flooding from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

Color Key:

Purple: 0 ft. - 5 ft.
Blue: 5 ft. - 10 ft.
Green: 10 ft. - 15 ft.
Yellow: 15 ft. - 20 ft.
Orange: 20 ft. - 25 ft.
Pink: 25 ft. - 30 ft.
Red: 30 ft. - 40 ft.

We need to explain several factors incorporated in the development of this map.

First, and foremost, Scenario 2 is built with the assumption the Corps takes no action in terms of diverting more water from the Mississippi into the Atchafalaya – in effect, that the Corps does NOT use the Morganza Spillway.

While the Corps has yet to confirm opening the Spillway, this appears to be a foregone conclusion: the Spillway MUST be opened if the Mississippi levee system is to maintain its structural integrity.

Second, Scenario 2 is not truly a single outcome of a disastrous levee failure, but a composite of all the most severe flooding that could result from various levee failures and breaches.

While one worst-case scenario could lead to water levels of 10 to 20 feet or more in sections of New Orleans, and another could produce unimaginable flooding in the greater Baton Rouge area, it is exceedingly unlikely that both areas could be so catastrophically impacted at the same time.

Third, Scenario 2 fails to take into account "flood fight" efforts already underway by the Corps, by the state, by numerous parishes and municipalities.

"Flood fight" efforts - already underway or soon to be started, such as sandbagging, Hesco basket installation, levee reinforcement and those orange Tiger Dams - will all add to the safety factor and further reduce the threat of a major breach.

Click here for an even larger version of the map and the other scenarios

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