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The Flood is Released





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The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the floodgates on the Morganza Spillway in an attempt to control the flow of the floodwaters by diverting them around Baton Rouge and New Orleans into the Atchafalaya river basin, a low-lying area of central Louisiana.

(Left) Landsat 5 image of the Mississippi River in the Memphis, Tenn. Area on May 12, 2006. (Right) Landsat 5 image of the Mississippi River in the Memphis, Tenn. Area on May 10, 2011. 
Credit: USGS/NASA
The Morganza Spillway was built in the 1950's to relieve flood pressure on Mississippi River. It was last opened in 1973 and is twenty miles (32.2km) long with one-hundred twenty-five gates that can release up to 600,000 cubic feet/sec (17,000 cubic metres/sec).



The water will flow south, purposely flooding homes and farms in the state's Cajun country under an expected ten to twenty feet of water while bypassing the larger cities. If all goes according to plan, the water will run south to Morgan City - where workers are rushing to reinforces levees - and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Corps spokesman Col Ed Fleming said: "It's a historic day, not only for the entire Mississippi River but for the state of Louisiana. Today's the first day in the history of our nation that we have had three floodways open."

Col Fleming said the opening would be slow to, "make sure folks have the understanding that water is coming their way and they evacuate according to their local procedures".

Wildlife has also required time to get to higher ground. The residents of the low lying areas of Louisiana whose homes and farms are being sacrificed to save the more populous cities are doing the same.

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