Friday, June 10, 2011

Music to Cajun ears: Crest forecasts lowered

Less floodwater than initially thought will end up swamping Cajun towns and farms, officials said Monday. That’ll make the difference between wet or dry for some, but others — those who live in areas where up to 20 feet was expected — will still see flooded property.
"The crests have been lowered modestly in a number of places," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters after being briefed by the Army Corps of Engineers. As a result, fewer flood gates at the Morganza Spillway will likely have to be opened.
But the possibility of "backwater flooding" for areas not protected by levees and earthen works was still high, he added. "We are still looking at a very significant amount of water," Jindal said. "We know it's going to impact households. We know it's going to impact families."
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The Corps reported that Mississippi River floodwater "is not rising as quickly in the (Morganza) Spillway as they expected because their projections used 1973 data, which is not specifically geared to this exact situation, and because of drought conditions absorbing much of the water, which were not factored into their projections," Jindal's office said in a statement.
That slight piece of good news didn't stop crews and remaining residents from last-minute sandbagging and levee construction.
In towns like Amelia, about 100 miles south of the spillway that was opened Saturday, crews worked around the clock to build earthworks and reinforce levees ahead of water expected to reach the area by Tuesday.
"I hope they know what they are doing," said Hue Tran, who was watching the giant dump trucks.
The flooding earlier submerged parts of Memphis, Tenn., where President Barack Obama arrived on Monday to meet with impacted families before delivering a high school commencement address.
Other Louisiana towns, like Krotz Springs, Butte LaRose and Morgan City, also were making plans for severe flooding that could last for three weeks before the water works its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
A hand-painted sign in front a deserted Butte LaRose home said it all: "My slice of heaven force-flooded straight to hell. God help us all."
In Stephensville, a small town near Morgan City, Ronnie Wiggins and his neighbors furiously filled sandbags to protect their houses.
Wiggins had few kind words to say about the spillway's opening.
"It's all about saving Baton Rouge and New Orleans while they flood people down here," Wiggins said, pointing out that most people in his neighborhood did not carry flood insurance.
"So I guess it's all about saving the rich and burying the poor?" he asked.
In Krotz Springs, which will be among the first towns to feel the flood's effects, Kathy Reed-Eason spent the weekend moving her parents' belongings out of harm's way.
"My mom was crying," Reed-Eason said. "Mom said she'd go look at the river, and get out of the house."
About 2,000 people on Sunday were ordered to evacuate from St. Landry Parish, just south of Krotz Springs.
Image: The flooded Atchafalaya River during a mandatory evacuation on May 15, 2011 in Krotz Springs, Louisiana.
Mario Tama  /  Getty Images
The flooded Atchafalaya River during a mandatory evacuation on Sunday in Krotz Springs, Louisiana.
In Krotz Springs itself, locals were also urged to leave by Sunday afternoon.
Renee Ledoux cried when the National Guard and sheriff's deputies showed up at her front door.
But by the 5 p.m. deadline, the 44-year-old Ledoux and her boyfriend Billy Hanchett decided to ride it out one more night on air mattresses inside the empty home in Krotz Springs. They have a camper they plan to stay in on a friend's property outside the flood zone.
"We really don't want to go," Hanchett said. Ledoux added that she felt blessed that they had the camper because a lot of others have nowhere to go except shelters.
Despite the mandatory evacuation order, Krotz Springs town clerk Suzanne Bellau said it was unlikely the sheriff's office would force people to leave. For most, the worst part was wondering what may happen. National Guardsmen were building a second levee to bolster protection for the town.
"It's the unknown, that's the problem," Bellau said. "Is it going to come into their homes or not? And the people who are leaving, what are they coming back to?"
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About 2,500 people live in the Morganza Spillway's flood path. Some 22,500 others, along with 11,000 buildings, could be affected by backwater flooding — the water pushed back into streams and tributaries that cannot flow normally into what will be an overwhelmed Atchafalaya River.
Some 3,000 square miles of land could be inundated in up to 20 feet of water for several weeks. When flows peak around May 22, the spillway will carry about 125,000 cubic feet per second, about one quarter of its capacity.

 Photos: Record flooding

  1. City surveyor Tony Moon works on a makeshift levee on the edge of the flooding Mississippi River with the temporarily shuttered Isle of Capri riverboat casino behind him, Friday, May 20 in Natchez, Miss. The river was forecast to crest at 62.1 feet, the highest level in Natchez recorded history. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  2. Haley English, 7, cries into the arms of her mother, Naomi English, as she looks toward her submerged house in Vicksburg, Miss., on May 20. (Rogelio V. Solis / AP) 
  3. A precautionary sign warning of flooding is almost covered by Mississippi River floodwaters along the road to LeTourneau Technologies, in Vicksburg, Miss., on May 20. (Rogelio V. Solis / AP) 
  4. Workers build a 16-foot makeshift levee to protect the 100-year-old JM Jones Lumber Company on the edge of the flooding Mississippi River on May 20 in Natchez, Miss. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  5. A sand berm didn't help this home in Vicksburg, Miss., on May 19. (Dave Martin / AP) 
  6. A corrections officer motors through floodwaters to pick up prisoners helping sandbag against the flooding in Vidalia, La., on May 19. (Gerald Herbert / AP)
  7. Floodwaters from the Yazoo River creep across crops near Yazoo City, Miss., on May 19. The Yazoo backed up because of Mississippi River flooding. (Dave Martin / AP) 
  8. Guy and Diane Creekmore check out their flooded home on May 18 in Vicksburg, Miss. The Creekmores take daily trips out to see the damage to their home, which is currently filled with about 4 feet of floodwater. They also feed the possums and a raccoon that have been stranded on the roof of their home. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  9. A member of the Army Corps of Engineers looks over sandbags along the rising Mississippi River in Natchez, Miss., on Wednesday, May 18. Cargo was slowly moving along the bloated Mississippi River after a costly daylong standstill. (Gerald Herbert / AP) 
  10. Floodwaters from the Mississippi River closed Highway 61 north of Natchez, Miss., on May 17. (Dave Martin / AP) 
  11. Louisiana Army National Guard Sgt. Michael Leehy inspects new makeshift levee modifications on May 17 in Morgan City. The Morganza Spillway floodgates were opened for the first time in nearly forty years and have succussfully lowered the crest of the flooding Mississippi River, but towns like Morgan City expect to get hit by some of the diverted water. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  12. Tanya Acosta moves sandbags around her home on May 17 in Stephensville, La.(Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  13. Farmers work as floodwaters from the Mississippi River creep across their fields in Natchez, Miss., on May 17. Heavy flooding from Mississippi tributaries has displaced more than 4,000 in the state, about half of them upstream from Natchez in the Vicksburg area.(Dave Martin / AP) 
  14. Louisiana National Guard troops set up baskets to hold in sand above a levee in Krotz Springs on May 17.(Gerald Herbert / AP) 
  15. April Bordelon helps her brother Justin Reech move a load of belongings from his home in Big Bend, La., into a community known as Canadaville, in Simmesport, La., on May 16. The community was formerly used by Hurricane Katrina evacuees. (Gerald Herbert / AP) 
  16. A street sign stands in the rising water of the Atchafalaya River in Simmesport, La., on May 16. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  17. Brenda Hynum hugs her daughter Debra Emery as they watch floodwaters rise around Emery's mobile home in Vicksburg, Miss., on May 16. A sand berm around the trailer failed in the night and floodwaters from the rising Mississippi river rushed in. "We tried so hard to stop it. It goes from anger to utter disbelief that this could happen. I just want to go home," Emery said. (Dave Martin / AP) 
  18. A woman in Stephensville, La., ties sandbags on May 15 as people throughout the region race to protect their homes from rising floodwaters due to the opening of the Morganza Spillway. (Sean Gardner / Reuters) 
  19. Giant whirlpools the size of cars develop along the Atchafalaya River on May 15 due to the opening of the Morganza Spillway. Deputies warned people to get out as Mississippi River water gushing from floodgates for the first time in four decades crept ever closer to communities in Louisiana Cajun country. (P.C. Piazza / The Lafayette Daily Advertiser via AP) 
  20. Brittany Pearce, left, wipes her eyes while taking a break with Leanna Gresco after a long day of throwing sandbags in front of Pearce's grandparents' house in Stephensville, La. on, May 15. (Sean Gardner / Reuters) 
  21. National Guardsman Spec. Lionel Lefleur stands guard on top of a levee checking vehicles trying to enter town, May 15, in Butte LaRose, La. The National Guard was trying to allow only residents trying to evacuate their homes into the town. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  22. Brittany Ryder, 11, looks on as family members clear out their house during a mandatory evacuation, May 15, in Melville, La. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)
  23. Houseboats are secured to a tree on the Atchafalaya River, May 15, in Henderson, La. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  24. Mary Williams, right, looks on as family members pack the contents of her home, where she has lived since 1948, during a mandatory evacuation order, May 15, in Krotz Springs, La. (Mario Tama / Getty Images) 
  25. Arionne Ruffin, 7, pushes her cousin Josh Ruffin, 3, in a toy car while Alexis Rhodes, 8, plays in front of her family's home, May 15, in Bayou Black, La. The Rhodes, who have sandbagged around their home, purchased the house in February and are anxious about the impending flooding. (Julia Rendleman / The Houma Courier via AP) 
  26. Water diverted from the Mississippi River spills through a bay in the Morganza Spillway in Morganza, La., May 14. Water from the inflated Mississippi River gushed through a floodgate Saturday for the first time in nearly four decades and headed toward thousands of homes and farmland in the Cajun countryside, threatening to slowly submerge the land under water up to 25 feet deep. (Patrick Semansky / AP) 
  27. Inmates move sandbags for the construction of temporary levees in Butte LaRose, La., May 14. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) 
  28. Clothes are seen bagged in anticipation of floods in Butte LaRose, La., May 14.(Eric Thayer / Reuters) 
  29. Flood waters from the Mississippi River pour over a levee on the Yazoo River, a tributary to the Mississippi River, north of Vicksburg, Miss., May 13. Thousands of residents who live along or near the river from Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have been forced to evacuate, and thousands of acres of prime farmland have been covered by the record-setting rising waters. (Chris Todd / EPA) 
  30. Flood waters of the Mississippi River threaten a large oil refinery complex in Baton Rouge, La., May 13.(Chris Todd / EPA) 
  31. City workers transport sandbags past the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Station on May 12, in Vicksburg, Miss. The historic station is near the Mississippi River but the rest of downtown is on a bluff above. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  32. Residents of Vicksburg, Miss., take advantage of the raised railroad tracks north of the city to fish in the Mississippi River flood waters late Thursday, May 12. The fishermen along the tracks were treated to the sight of a 10-foot long alligator swimming in the waters.(Rogelio V. Solis / AP) 
  33. Mobile homes sit in water as high as their rooftops near Watkins, Tenn., May 10. (Mike Brown / The Commercial Appeal via Zuma Press) 
  34. Workers look for minor imperfections to correct before pinning down high density polyethylene covering on the backside of the Yazoo Backwater Levee in Vicksburg on May 10. The cover will act as a barrier if overtopping occurs and will inhibit backside erosion of the levee. (Sean Gardner / Reuters) 
  35. Friends and family help build a sandbag wall around a home in Stephensville, La., on May 11. (Gerald Herbert / AP) 
  36. Frank Rankin stands in front of his flooded home in Vicksburg, Miss. on May 11. (Sean Gardner / Reuters) 
  37. The Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn., as seen on April 21, 2010 in the satellite image on the left, and during it's crest on May 10, 2011, at right. The river reached 47.8 feet, just under the record of 48.7 feet set in 1937. Mud Island river park can be seen in the upper right corner. (NASA) 
  38. Melvina Jones carries a mirror through floodwaters as the swelling Mississippi River begins to surround her sister's home in Vicksburg, Miss. on Tuesday, May 10. (Sean Gardner / Reuters) 
  39. This industrial facility was flooded by the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn., on May 10. The river earlier that day crested in Memphis just short of its 1937 record.(Dan Anderson / EPA) 
  40. Chaperone Dave Weber and West Delaware High School Seniors Scott Egemo and Drew Funke lift flood debris below the damaged Lake Delhi dam near Delhi, Iowa, on May 4. (Becky Malewitz / AP) 
  41. Byron Sitz looks at Mississippi River floodwater covering the intersection of Riverside Drive and Beale Street in Memphis on May 10. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  42. Water swamps a casino flooded by the Mississippi River in Tunica, Miss., on May 10. (Dan Anderson / EPA) 
  43. Jermaine Jarrett surveys a flooded street in his neighborhood in Memphis, Tenn., on May 9. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  44. Floodwaters rise at the end of Beale Street in Memphis, May 9. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) 
  45. Floodwater is seen inside Peaches Bar on May 9 in Memphis. (Jeff Roberson / AP) 
  46. A towboat pushes barges down the flood-swollen Mississippi River south of Memphis, May 9. (Danny Johnston / AP) 
  47. Water covers a gravestone, May 9, in Luxora Ark. The town sits along the Mississippi River where the water level is currently higher than the level of the town causing the ground to be saturated and leaving nowhere for the water in the town to drain. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  48. (Left) Workers use a crane to remove some of the Bonnet Carre Spillway's barriers in Norco, La. on May 9 in anticipation of rising floodwater. The spillway, which the Corps built about 30 miles upriver from New Orleans in response to the great flood of 1927, was last opened during the spring 2008. Monday marked the 10th time it has been opened since the structure was completed in 1931. The spillway diverts water from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain.

    (Right) The Bonnet Spillway as seen from the air. (Gerald Herbert and Patrick Semansky / AP) 
  49. A cell block is seen alongside an inner levee along the Mississippi River at Angola State Prison in West Feliciana Parish, La. on May 9. A convoy of buses and vans transferred inmates with medical problems from Angola, which is bordered on three sides by the Mississippi River. (Patrick Semansky / AP) 
  50. A man takes a picture of a flooded mobile home park as floodwaters slowly rise in Memphis, Tenn., May 8. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) 
  51. Linda Casals leans over the Interstate 55 bridge crossing the Mississippi River to get a better look at flooding Sunday, May 8, in Memphis, Tenn. (Jeff Roberson / AP) 
  52. Kimberly Nailor pauses to wipe her forehead while using sandbags to protect a home as floodwaters slowly rise in Memphis, Tenn., May 8. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) 
  53. Residents paddle a boat past houses being swallowed up by floodwater on Saturday, May 7, in Memphis, Tenn. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
  54. Volunteers fill sandbags to help in the fight against rising floodwater on May 7 in Memphis. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  55. Jonathan White and Leandra Felton wade through slowly rising floodwaters with items from their home May 7 in Memphis, Tenn. (Eric Thayer / Reuters)
  56. Reggie Smith wears a sandbag on his head in an effort to keep dry in a steady rain as he works to fill sandbags outside the RiverTown condominiums on May 7 on Mud Island in Memphis, Tenn. (Jeff Roberson / AP) 
  57. Jerry Brooks wades through his yard on May 6 in Bogota, Tenn. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  58. John Wade and Jose Peralta use a boat to haul sandbags to build a levee around Wade's home on May 5 in Metropolis, Ill.(Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  59. Farmland is flooded by the White River near Des Arc, Ark., on May 5. (Danny Johnston / AP) 
  60. James Dunn gives his grandson Caleb Walker a paddle boat ride down the middle of a flooded street near his home on May 5 in Metropolis. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  61. Mississippi wildlife agent Hugh Johnson walks past a dead whitetail buck in Greenville, Miss., on May 5. Johnson said herds of deer, coyotes, some wild hogs and other wildlife are swimming to Greenville because of flooding on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River. This deer broke its neck when it tried to run through a chain fence. (Rogelio V. Solis / AP) 
  62. James Strayhorn carries groceries through a flooded neighborhood back to his home in Tiptonville, Tenn. on May 4. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated and have caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  63. Robert Hart, left, helps Oma Gardner remove furniture from her flooded home on May 4 in Tiptonville, Tenn. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  64. Sally Nance walks through floodwater as she helps her neighbors remove clothes from their home on May 4 in Tiptonville, Tenn.(Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  65. Rita Gieselman leads the way as Phil Vanover follows after checking on his home in the 100 block of Chestnut Street in Rumsey, Ky. on May 4. (John Dunham / AP) 
  66. Debbie Ricketts, left, and her Point Township, Ind., neighbors, Bill, center, and Hank Cox basked in the sun on their old grain bin cement foundation that they dubbed "Gilligan's Island," on the afternoon of May 4. (Denny Simmons / The Evansville Courier & Press via AP) 
  67. Volunteers fill sandbags at the Pyramid Arena to prepare for rising floodwaters from the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. on May 4. The National Weather Service is predicting a 48-foot crest of the Mississippi River on May 11. (Lance Murphey / AP) 
  68. Homes on Mud Island that are usually high above the water level are met by the rising waters of the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. on May 4. (Lance Murphey / AP) 
  69. David Lucas, left, and Lauren Lucas, right, comfort Carla Jenkins, owner of Vidalia Dock and Storage Co., after deciding to evacuate her business in Vidalia, La. on May 3 due to the threat of the predicted Mississippi River flood. (Eric J. Shelton / The Natchez Democrat via AP) 
  70. Floodwater engulfs a home near Wyatt, Mo., on May 3, after the Army Corps of Engineers blew a massive hole in a levee at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to divert water from the town of Cairo, Illinois. The diversion flooded about 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland and 100 homes. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  71. Roy Presson embraces his daughters Catherine and Amanda as they stand on the edge of State Highway HH looking out at their family farm in Wyatt, Mo., on Tuesday. The Presson home and 2,400 acres of land that they farmed was flooded by an engineered levee break.(Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  72. Floodwater surrounds homes in Morehouse, Mo., on Tuesday. Heavy rains have left the ground saturated, rivers swollen, and has caused widespread flooding in Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Arkansas. (Scott Olson / Getty Images) 
  73. Tractors pump floodwaters over a levee in Tiptonville, Tenn., on Tuesday in a bid to divert some water. (Erik Schelzig / AP) 
  74. Daniel Davis stands in his kitchen in Livermore, Ky., on Tuesday after the Green River sent floodwater rushing in.(John Dunham / Messenger-Inquirer via AP) 
  75. Floodwater from the Mississippi River is seen north of New Madrid, Mo., on Tuesday. (Jeff Roberson / AP) 
  76. An explosion lights up the night sky as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blows an 11,000-foot hole in the Birds Point levee in Mississippi County, Mo. on Monday. The breach lowered the flood levels at Cairo, Illinois, and other communities. (David Carson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via EPA) 
  77. James Bindon waits for more loads of sand to be delivered to the riverfront in Vidalia, La., on May 9. Crews planned to use the sand to fill temporary levees in preparation for the predicted Mississippi River flood. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat via AP) 
  78. Volunteers hastily build a wall of sandbags along Illinois 3 on May 8 in the community of Olive Branch. (Alan Rogers / The Southern Illinoisan via AP)
  79. Anna Mayhood leaped to safety from her vehicle after the Broad Street Bridge collapsed beneath it on April 27 in Moriah, N.Y. Authorities said flooding closed nearly 60 roads across the Adirondacks, most of them in Essex County, scene of some of the worst damage. (Lohr Mckinstry / The Press Republican via AP) 
  80. Kenny Back pulls a boat with his sister Jessica Capp and wife Theresa Back to collect belongings from their parents' flooded home on April 27 in Old Shawneetown, Illinois. (Stephen Rickerl / The Southern via AP) 
  81. Volunteers place sandbags atop a temporary levee to fight back floodwaters as lightning from a thunderstorm is seen in the background on April 26, in Dutchtown, Mo. (Jeff Roberson / AP)
  82. Four houses are surrounded by floodwaters from the Current River just outside Doniphan, Mo., on April 26. The area received several inches of rain in previous days. (Paul Davis / Daily American Republic via AP) 
  83. A rail service vehicle and a pickup sit stranded in floodwaters from the Black River south of Poplar Bluff, Mo., on April 25. (Paul Davis / Daily American Republic via AP) 
  84. Residents of Oak Glen Residential Community are assisted by rescue personnel as rising waters from a nearby creek forced them to evacuate their homes in Johnson, Ark., on April 25. (Beth Hall / AP) 
  85. Volunteers stack sandbags in Metropolis, Ill., on April 25 to curb Ohio River flooding. (Alan Rogers / The Southern Illinoisan via AP)
  86. A truck stalls in high waters in Paris, Texas, on April 25. (Sam Craft / The Paris News via AP) 
  87. Leon Gentry looks out over floodwaters that surround his garage after he spent the morning working to secure what he could from the rising water in Henderson, Ky., on April 25. (Mike Lawrence / The Gleaner via AP) 
  88. Kim Mada loads equipment into a truck to avoid rising water at Falcon Floats in Tahlequah, Okla., on April 25. (Matt Barnard / Tulsa World via AP) 
  89. Butler County, Mo., Sheriff Mark Dobbs stands on a levee along the Black River, right, on April 25, where floodwaters were running over into adjacent farmland southeast of Poplar Bluff. The levee broke in this location during a 2008 flood. (Paul Davis / Daily American Republic via AP) 
  90. Kasey Medley, right, stands on the front porch of her flooded home with her friend Erica Cass in Poplar Bluff, Mo., on April 26. (Jeff Roberson / AP) 
  91. Dade County High School student Marcella Lackey, second left, dances with Craig Holmes, left, at her high school prom in Dade County, Ga., on Saturday, May 14. Two weeks after a tornado devastated their town, students from Dade County High came together for their prom, hoping the traditional teenage rite of passage can help them regain a sense of normalcy. (Billy Weeks / AP)

 Interactive: Flooding 2011

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