Louisiana National Guard Still Engaged in Mississippi Flood Fight

Tiger Dams, Sand Boils Only Part of the Effort

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Tiger Dam atop levee before being filled with water
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Tiger Dam atop levee before being filled with water

The Mississippi River Flood of 2011 continues to slowly rise in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana as the record volume of water moves downstream. The Army Corps of Engineers is using its two major flood management structures to maintain safe water levels below Baton Rouge. As of the beginning of the day Thursday, FEMA reports 17 gates of 125 are open at the Morganza spillway 40 miles north of Baton Rouge, La. 333 of 350 gates are open at the Bonnet Carre Spillway just upstream from New Orleans.

The water from the Morganza spillway is spreading south into the floodway and from there to the Atchafalaya River Basin. The water is traveling slower than anticipated as it moves through regions with moderate to severe drought conditions. The slower rate of spread in the floodway is allowing the state and local authorities, with the assistance of the Louisiana National Guard, to prepare the communities in the path of the diverted flood waters.

As of Wednesday, Louisiana had mobilized 1,150 members of the state National Guard (LANG) for the flood fight. Gov. Bobby Jindal reports the following statistics on their flood preparation work:

* Guardsmen have located 163 sand boils in or near levees. They represent a threat to the structure of the levee and must either be contained or filled in.

* In Krotz Springs, the Guard has helped install 9,731 feet of HESCO barriers. The barriers serve as temporary levees or add height to existing levees.

* Statewide, the Guard is assisting local public safety authorities in patrolling levees, preventing traffic on levees and providing traffic control in some areas where asked by the local police agencies.

* At the downstream end of the Atchafalaya River, the LANG is working 24 hours a day to complete about 25,000 feet of HESCO barrier. These installations will provide flood protection to the communities of Amelia, Siracusaville and Morgan City, according to the Associated Press. The area will not only see direct flooding, but the water will backflow as the levels rise.

* The National Guard is continuing to install Tiger Dams in Terrebonne Parish. Tiger Dams are 50 ft.-long water-filled tubes that act like a sand bag. About six miles or more of these devices are expected to be used in this area.

The 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company is staging in central and southern Louisiana, according to the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System. Its 18 boats and 44 Guardsmen are on standby for rescues and to provide assistance when needed to state and local officials.

River levels as of the morning of Thursday, provided by the Army Corps of Engineers:

* Vicksburg, Miss. - 57.04 ft., a foot past the previous record

* Natchez, Miss. - 61.82 ft., over three feet past the previous record

* Red River Landing, La. - 62.87 ft., down about 2 inches but still 1.2 inches over the previous record

* Baton Rouge, La. - 44.74 ft., little changed in the last 24 hours and below the record

* New Orleans - 17.08 ft., little changed in the last 24 hours and below the record

The goal of the Army Corps of Engineers is to maintain or lower the levels at both Baton Rouge and New Orleans through the use of the two spillways. The National Weather Service predicts little change in river levels in that area.

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