As we recall, on Saturday, the first of the 125 bays at the Morganza Spillway was opened in an effort to keep the two largest cities on the South Mississippi River, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, from flooding. Since then, another 8 bays were opened yesterday and another 2 are expected to be opened today. Each bay that is opened diverts 10,000 cubic feet of water from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya River, obviously causing flooding throughout the latter river from north of Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico.

The expectation is that 25,000 residents in the Atchafalaya basin will be forced to evacuate, since eventually there will be 20 to 25 feet of flooding in this area. The Atchafalaya River, for those who do not know (and there isn’t much reason for you to know) begins soon after the Red River merges into the Mississippi River and then travels to the Gulf slightly west of the Big Muddy’s path. Most of it travels through wilderness areas with a few small towns included. The biggest city is Morgan City, which rests at the Gulf.

The Army Corps of Engineers expects that about 30 of the bays will be opened eventually to keep the Mississippi at Baton Rouge below the 45 feet crest line, which is when the flooding will begin there. If it were allowed to go above 45 feet, downtown, the oil refineries, and both universities would flood. Also, once the river floods, the excess water would spread through the bayous and creeks that flow from the river, flooding most of the rest of the city.

Thus far, the western part of St. Landry Parish is under a mandatory order to evacuate. However, many of the 2,000 residents in this area have refused to leave, fearing (perhaps rightfully) that their homes would be ransacked as soon as they were gone. Some residents are planning on setting up neighborhood watches on boats to traverse the roiling waters of the Atchafalaya, which will only continue to get worse over the next few weeks.

The residents of the area that will be flooded are perhaps rightfully perturbed that their homes will be lost to save a part of the state that they don’t much care about. As well, most of these homes are ineligible for flood insurance, since they are not normally located on a flood plain, or are designated as too high above the river to be eligible for flood insurance.

Here is a news report today about the hesitancy of some individuals to evacuate their homes:

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