May 11th, 2011
07:02 PM ET

Bulging Mississippi River rolls South

Tunica, Mississippi (CNN) - The swollen Mississippi River rolled southward Wednesday, swamping emptied-out towns and threatening untold damage to areas still recovering from a series of natural disasters.

In Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, authorities and residents braced for the days ahead.

"I went through (Hurricane) Katrina," said Lynn Magnuson, a New Orleans resident. "I would not wish flooding on anyone, and this city is the last place on Earth that needs any more high water."

The river crested Tuesday at Memphis, Tennessee, just short of a record set in 1937.

Residents and officials are especially concerned about the Morganza Spillway above Baton Rouge, which was last opened in 1973. Opening it could help spare Baton Rouge and New Orleans from some damage, but it would flood populated and rural areas in the swampy Atchafalaya Basin. The basin is home to the Atchafalaya River and myriad tributaries.

The 4,800-foot spillway includes 125 gate bays, said operations manager Russell Beauvais. In 1973, 42 of them were opened.

After gates are opened, Beauvais said, it would take about three days for the water to fully reach Morgan City, a town of about 12,000 near the coast.

At a news conference in Louisiana on Wednesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal said the decision on whether to open the Morganza Spillway is still under way.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Weather
soundoff (One Response)
  1. eugenia

    why must new orleans have these losses again and again? i know in my heart that the levees have issues maybe some less than others but still issues that have disastrous effects. what happens if the projected water heights aren't accurate enough to give time for people to plan? what happens when this weakens the levees? non-natural/natural disasters happen everywhere but repeatedly in one place? new orleans is an amazingly beautiful city and it tears at me to see this.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm |