Morganza Spillway Opens Part 2

First, a little background and education about the Mississippi River and the control structures/spillways/floodways

Now, getting ready . . . .

I have a really good idea. Since Baton Rouge and New Orleans are going to be spared (hopefully), how about the folks who live in those areas open their doors to folks who evacuate and have nowhere to go. And after the water recedes, those who were spared can go help those who lost everything recover. What do you think?

And now what we’ve been anticipating. Video of the opening of the Morganza Spillway earlier this afternoon.

Another video done by a Baton Rouge TV station is 11 minutes long, but it’s history, so please watch if you dare. The volume of water is staggering, and at this point, I have no idea how fast that water is flowing.

Please realize that they are only opening a few bays at a time so that wildlife might have a fighting chance to get away from the inundation. It’s a sad thought, and one many of us don’t care to have, but animals like deer, coyotes, black bear, rabbits, and fox have to run and find higher ground somewhere.

A map was released this afternoon by the New Orleans District of the Army Corps of Engineers showing the  “Morganza Floodway Timeline“.  According to the timeline,  the water will reach Terrebonne Parish 144 hours from this afternoon (Saturday, May 14, 2011).  That will be this coming Friday.

According to history, the Morganza Spillway vibrated so badly in 1973 when it was opened to 30% capacity that officials thought the foundation would give way.  You definitely would not find me standing on top of that thing like some of those “officials” in the video.

Let’s keep each other abreast of what is going on.  Feel free to post updates here in the comment section, and I will share with you what I know.

Preparations at Camp Dularge began this afternoon and will continue tomorrow.

Let’s hang together!


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  1. Unfortunately the water is coming. About the only thing I can do is pray for those who will be affected and donate money for “Flood Buckets” through our church to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). For those that haven’t heard of UMCOR, it is a nonprofit organization that does worldwide relief work following a disaster. It is located in Patterson, La. (Will it flood too?) We can’t do anything about the flooding, but our donation will at least help with the clean up of some one’s home when the water is gone.

    1. When we lost our house in a hurricane on the east coast the Red Cross gave us a bottle of bleach. FEMA gave us some melted ice. UMCOR gave us food, nice people who worked really, really hard cleaning up and most of all they gave us kindness. I’ll never forget that and hope to pay it forward.

      1. Well, that’s a wonderful attitude. I would like to do the same. These trials somehow bring out the best of humanity! So, let’s stay in touch and see if you can help someone out. Monica, I put a status on my FACE Book page asking for those with available space to post and those who have needs, to post accordingly. If you let me know where you are, I might be able to filter some folks to you for temporary help. So, let me know where you are okay?

  2. Why open it when full? Why not open it at lower levels?
    That way the po’ folks would not be tempted to live in wet areas. You don’t wait till the bathtub over flows to pull plug.

    I cleaned that up.

    I am going to have to chat with my buddy Redfeather about Mormon relief efforts. They did a lot of back and heart breaking work during our ‘unadvertised’ flooding a few years back.

    My conservative view is if you made it your backyard, enjoy it. I read where at least once a year these ‘residents’ get a letter from the CoE reminding them of certain wet possibilities.

    I am praying those who stay in dry areas are not overrun by snakes bears cattle and other critters.

    1. Blu, you are correct about the annual letter for the ACoE. All those who purchased land in the “Morganza Floodway” knew at the time of purchase what they were buying. The Army Corps reserved the right to open the flood gates and flood their land anytime it was necessary and for the “greater good”. That is why you see news clips of folks packing up and moving out as though they are never coming back and doing so with very little whining. Now, the big question is whether or not these folks could afford the premium on a National Flood Policy big enough to cover their homes and contents. The second question being posed by some is whether or the government should compensate those who could not afford the premiums. We faced all those same questions when the flood was a “natural disaster”; however, this one might be considered a “man made” disaster.

      And let me also comment on what you say about lowering the levels sooner. I am of the mindset that they should have lowered the Mississippi levels through all three structures two weeks ago when they knew the crest was coming. That way, when the time came, theoretically, there might be less water pressure to deal with. But you and I are not hydrologists.

      1. There’s a simple answer to the question of why Morganza wasn’t opened sooner. From Wiki:

        “The land on both sides of the Morganza Spillway is above normal river water levels, and usually dry. In order for water to reach the spillway, the Mississippi must first rise well above its flood stage, overtopping its banks.

        The Corps of Engineers considers opening the Morganza Spillway when the flow of the Mississippi at Red River Landing, Louisiana, is greater than 1,500,000 cu ft/s and rising.”

        In other words, even when the Mississippi has reached flood stage, if it hasn’t overtopped the levees and filled up behind Morganza, there’s nothing for the spillway to release.

        1. Thanks again for more information. And to reiterate . . . there is bureaucracy involved. There are very strict parameters set down for when each structure can and will be opened. But that doesn’t stop us from discussing our common sense theories, right 🙂

          1. Absolutely, on the need to balance bureaucracy with common sense. But as someone just said to me about five minutes ago, re: Morganza – no fill, no spill!

      2. “Now, the big question is whether or not these folks could afford the premium on a National Flood Policy big enough to cover their homes and contents.”

        My question would be, why would they write a flood policy? Is there flood insurance available in a Red Flag zone? That would make even less sense to me.

        1. Well, you are right that it does not make sense. But supposedly you can buy NFIP coverage no matter where you live, as long as your community participates in the NFIP and you can afford the premium. And to put this in perspective, my old house (30 yards from where I am right now) was four feet off the ground, and for a $3000-a-year premium I got $15,000 for the house and $5000 for contents. And that is all we could afford.

  3. BW,I pray for all that is in the path of the coming high water.As far as I know you are the first to say anything about the safety of the animals.The landscape will be forever changed and it may or not be a good thing.The folks of the bayous are strong resilient people and with God’s grace will rebound and keep on keeping on the best that they can.For everyone affected by this,my heartfelt prayers are for you.Stay safe.although we have never met I think of you as a friend.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, C.E. I just report things as real and common sense as I can. Sometimes it is very hard to make sense of what the government is thinking, but I try to be optimistic and neutral. While I do care about the humans and our possessions–we have forewarning and can get ourselves out of harm’s way. And while the river flooded naturally for years, the animals knew instinctively that happened in the spring. But the river has been harnessed for so long now that they no long know when it will flood. So, I do have compassion for them as they find their homes inundated without forewarning.

      1. The Corps of Engineers & the Governor’s office have been posting on Twitter and Facebook for several days with numbers to call if wildlife is encountered, and what to do if you find a bear (or whatever) in your back yard.

        One reason only one gate at Morganza was opened initially was to give wildlife advance notice, and a chance to escape. The biologists and environmentalists have been involved with the planning and appear to be doing a good job, under the circumstances.

  4. Blufloyd – as usual the “conservative” view is the narrow minded and totally insensitive one. I see you mention that you are praying… dare I add Christian to the conservative? Wow. I certainly hope if you ever find yourself in a dire situation you have people just like yourself around you to sit in judgement of the choices you made.

    1. Dee K – welcome to the bayou. Because you are new here, I want to gently say this is not a venue for criticizing each other’s views or philosophies. If you would like to talk about the flooding and how it will affect life, then I welcome you to do so! I will let Blufloyd defend his comment; and actually, it’s sort of comical that you zoned in on him. He is anything BUT Christian 🙂

      1. It’s usually narrow-minded, insensitive people who think the only people who pray are Christian. I doubt that Dee will be back. She feels better now that she’s unloaded on Blu.

    2. My goodness. The irony. “Narrow minded”? “Insensitive”? “Judgemental”?

      Pot, when you have a minute I’d like you to meet the Kettle.

  5. I’m new here-we moved from one flood prone area to another. I’m completey clueless about levees and floodgates. I’ve tried to read but I still can’t understand.
    I’m wondering why there isn’t a clearninghouse for volunteers to help. I’ve e-mailed the Red Cross and Humane Society that I have room for people, pets and a big empty boat barn where people could store things. Don’t a lot of us have resources like that? I haven’t heard anything and having lost a house (and dog-later recovered) my heart breaks for these people.

    1. Hi Monica and welcome to this bayou. I’m sorry you lost a home to a hurricane . . . which sort of tells me you came here from South Carolina? So, do you mind telling me where you are located now? If you would like to keep that private, you can fill in the contact box at the bottom of one of my pages or you can email me at Your idea of a clearinghouse is a very good one. Maybe this blog can work as a temporary clearing house, but networking would be the biggest thing–having manpower to put people with needs together with those who can help them. Your place, and others like yours, would be assets in low-lying bayou communities this hurricane season if we have storms that makes landfall along the TX coast or western edge of La. again. We now know from recent storms that we cannot withstand a 9 foot surge without serious flooding. Even if our homes are elevated above the water, the power gets shut off and it’s weeks before we can be home under almost normal conditions again. Let’s stay in touch, okay?

  6. If I offended anyone with my suggestion that those who will be spared offer help to those who will be flooded, please know that it is my intention to make you think and be very aware of what the far-reaching affects are of all that goes on around us. And if there is any way that you can help a family after the water recedes, by all means, do so in any way you can. Be grateful that your home and community were spared and show that appreciation. And I will do the same. I know that no one really wants to open their home to strangers, but as one reader stated, you can donate to a disaster recovery organization that has a good track record. I can tell you in the past that the Salvation Army was our life line when LilSis and I were down here after the flooding in 2005. With no electricity, no cell phone service, and very few people back home, it was music to our ears to hear the meal wagon coming down the highway, loudspeaker blaring, “LUNCH! We’ve got lunch! Anyone home?” I can put myself in the shoes of those who left their homes not knowing what they will come back to. I would like you to try to do the same.

  7. I was wondering this morning if it would affect you guys. I think your point about those in safer areas offering shelter and assistance to those who will be without was a great idea. If you have received blessings from others, you should return it to others who need help. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. You always have a couch in Oklahoma! Heck, I’d even let you have the bed.

  8. Thank you Bayou Woman for what you are doing for your area. I am in the Miss Delta at Greenville and we live only 1 to 2 miles from the levee on the dry side thank goodness. We have lots of friends who live on the lake and their homes has water over the roof on ground level and several feet of water in the elevated homes. There hasn’t been a lot of news about Greenville but all three casinos are closed as well as the port and other businesses on that side of the levee. We are storing some of our friends things at our house but we have packed up papers and pictures and some clothes if the need to leave becomes urgent. The sand boils is the biggest concern here at this time. We are to crest tomorrow at 64.55 flood stage is 48 ft. It will not start going down till this week-end. Sorry for the problems south of us but praying that all goes as good as possible for the time being. Thanks again for what you do and are doing. If you want to check the Delta go to Mississippi/Yazoo backwater flood updates on facebook and see the posts and pictures there. Love from Ms Delta Judy

    1. Judy, You are definitely in the throes of the high water now. The crest has passed you today, right? Thanks for writing and letting us know that you are able to help friends. Hope we call take advantage of those opportunities. Looks like our big cities will be spared while the sacrificial lands will be inundated for the “greater good”. Thank you for your kind words and please don’t be a stranger around the bayou!!! BW

  9. I do hope those who received help during the floods and hurricanes remember the help and caring they received and if able, return it to those who are needing it now.
    Shoot, we had several hotels/motels/inns/rent homes/private homes, etc. filled in our town and the church and others joined in to cook and deliver meals and essentials such as clothing, toiletries, etc. The folks who needed meds and doctors were shuttled to them asap also. So, yes, I love your idea of those who were helped returning that help.

    You do good work Wendy and I really enjoy your posts.

    1. Your words humble me, Cammy. I just have no clue how to help someone who has water to the roof of their house? I guess we’ll find out in the dog days of summer, after the water recedes how to best help the flood victims. Thank you for coming back and back, Cammy.

    1. Now there’s some good music, right there. These days, far too many people hear “Hendrix” and don’t think any farther than “Purple Haze”. 😉