Rising Miss. River causes flooding concern for some low-lying areas

Updated: May. 19, 2017 at 9:39 PM CDT
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ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - With rain expected in parts of south Louisiana in the coming days, all eyes are on water levels as the Mississippi River continues to rise.

Crews spent much of the evening Friday in St. Francisville putting down large sandbags along Ferdinand St. as water from Bayou Sara inches ever closer to topping the roadway. Officials say it could happen as early as this weekend.

"Where we're standing right now should probably be underwater within the next four or five days," said Brian Spillman, director of West Feliciana Homeland Security.

As the levels continue to rise in the Mississippi River, excess water is being dumped into Bayou Sara. Spillman says with more rain possibly on the way, homes in low-lying areas could be at risk.

"Hopefully, people can get their affairs squared away, get their camps in order, get their homes in order in those low-lying areas, and not have to worry about it when the bad weather comes in," Spillman added.

There was a flurry of activity Friday on the bank of the Mississippi River as Bayou Sara families crowded the area to take a peak at what could soon be coming their way.

"It's real choppy and the water's getting rough," said Christopher Anthony. "It's got a lot of logs in the water and a lot of debris and the landing's getting kind of rough right now, so we're trying to get in and out and get everything out the water that we can."

While some went out on the water to get some fishing done, Earl Barrow and his family stayed on land. He says his concern is safety.

"Because of the previous August flood, we now take more precaution and do things that we have to do that we normally take for gr anted," said Barrow. "You know, you have to do it when you have the time because once it happens, it's here."

It's not just low-lying areas that could be affected; a flood warning is still in effect for other parts of the state along the Mississippi River.

Ricky Boyett, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says as the water rises, their flood fight will be upgraded to phase two in the coming days.

"We're seeing a steady increase in the river," Boyett added. "When we enter phase two, we increase our inspections to a daily inspection rate. We like to have our guys on the levee everyday so that we keep an eye on any changes in the levee conditions and identify any areas of concern."

While low-lying areas are at a greater risk for flooding, he encourages everyone to remain vigilant. "If any resident sees something that's not normal or causes a little concern to them, we want them to call us and let us know. Any report, we do investigate," said Boyett.

Anyone who notices anything unusual in low-lying areas is encouraged to contact the Corps of Engineers at 225-346-3093.

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