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May 23, 2011 10:26 AM by Dave Baker

Traveling The Flooded Basin

I had the chance to take a drive toward the Morganza Spillway again Sunday. I had gone up with the kids for opening day back on May 14th. We drove over the Basin Bridge along I-10, then up to Morganza going through Livonia and New Roads. The water under the Basin bridge was pretty high, but nothing more than what we had seen in previous years. When we were allowed to drive over the spillway along LA 1, there was only one gate open allowing the Mississippi River to flow through. It was quite a site with the rushing whitewater heading downstream through the Morganza Floodway.

When we had arrived, the roadway was closed, and they had just opened the first gate. There was water on the low side of the spillway, which a local sheriff's deputy told me was normal. Most of the areas southwest of the gates were still dry. Within a couple of hours much of the area near the spillway itself was flooded. We headed back going over the bridge along US 190 and noticed no water between Lottie and Krotz Springs, except for a small bayou about half way across.

Fast forward to yesterday (May 22). This time we drove over US 190 heading toward Morganza. Everything looked okay along the route near Three Mile Lake. The Atchafalaya River at Krotz Springs was very high, but well within the levee system. Once we crossed over the river we noticed there was water for the entire route between Krotz Springs and Lottie. The small bayou we had seen the week before had spread across the Morganza Floodway from levee to levee at a depth at least 10 feet higher than the week before.

We crossed the actual spillway near Morganza and there were 17 gates open. The water was considerably higher, and rushing under the highway structure. The current was very strong, and most of the trees near the spillway were submerged, and those that we could see were swaying in the current. On the opposite side where the reservoir brings in the Mississippi River water we noticed a very large alligator as we approached the end of the spillway heading toward Batchelor.

After spending a terrific afternoon swimming and eating at False River (thanks to my brother in law Mac), we dropped back through Livonia and Grosse Tete and took I-10 back over the bridge. Heading west from Ramah, the water was very high along the east levee. It appeared to be about 4-5 feet below the roadway. We did notice a couple of camps that were flooded to the rooftops. I've never seen the water this high. From the Whiskey Bay exit to the Butte La Rose exit I noticed that the water was somewhat lower. Probably a good 3-4 feet lower on the west side of the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel. After crossing the Atchafalaya River between Butte La Rose and Henderson, the waters were even lower. Still pretty high, but I'm pretty sure I've seen the water along Lake Pelba and Henderson Lake up to that level before. Some water was at the bottom of the west levee near Henderson. I've attached video of the spillway, comparing opening day with Sunday.

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