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May 14, 2011 9:40 PM by Shawn Kline

Morganza Spillway opens one bay

An historic day on Saturday as the Morganza Spillway Control Structure is opened for just the second time in its history. Just one bay was raised but that one bay is putting places like Butte LaRose, Stephensville and Amelia directly in the water's path.

"Even if they would not have opened this structure, the water would have overrun the structure," Congressman Jeff Landry said. "That's the amount of water that's here."

Congressman Landry was in Morganza to watch the opening of the floodway for the first time since 1973, knowing the water will flood parts of his home parish but he keeps the importance of the spillway in mind.

"If we lost this structure, we would lose those towns for good," Landry said.

Water is now rushing out the Morganza Spillway Control Structure at more than 10,000 cubic feet per second and it's filling up land area fast. All that water is going right down the Atchafalaya Basin.

"The water will come out of here pretty quickly and you don't want to (destroy) the backside of this structure." Col. Ed Fleming says, "From an environmental standpoint, obviously there are lots of bear and other kinds of wildlife and we want to make sure they get the opportunity to get to higher ground."

Opening just one bay bought a few extra minutes for a pair of choppers to get off the ground as the water slowly creeped underneath them.
And if more bays were opened, one now famous rabbit may have ran out of time. But today, his notoriety comes from his epic escape (watch the Weekend edition of Acadiana's Newschannel at 10).
An escape, many in Acadiana were prepared for.



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