Baton Rouge: Bracing for the Mississippi

The U S Army Corp of Engineers will soon be tested over the lessons learned during the past ten years regarding flooding and things that should and should not be done. The Mississippi River is threatening the areas along its banks, including the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, TN, Baton Rouge, LA, and New Orleans, LA.

Memphis is already flooding and it will get worse quickly. The Corps of Engineers has a plan to alleviate the impact of the river’s fury.

Bonnet Carre Spillway, usually opened every few years to release water into Lake Ponchartain, will open May 9.

The Morganza Spillway, closed for nearly 38 years, will open May 12.That step will lower the crest considerably before it hits New Orleans on May 24.The down side is that residents of some small towns along tributary rivers have been told to evacuate. Many stand to lose their homes due to the spillway’s opening. As an Army Engineer, I learned about risk. There are times when casualties and loss are going to occur. Determining the least damaging course of action still results in sorrow and hardship and the decision is never easy.

Baton Rouge is a normally a bustling city, with visitors, locals rushing about getting things done, admiring the scenery and enjoying a beautiful day. Currently, the residents are grateful that they have an opportunity to sandbag and prepare for what might be the biggest flood to hit the area in almost a hundred years. Workers are already piling sandbags to raise the levee’s height to 51 feet.

East Baton Rouge is subject to occasional flooding and the city has a plan to protect property from damage. The city warns that the floods can range from 10 to 50 years apart, although there were seven major floods between 1977 and 2001, the last major flood in that area. It has now been ten years. Fortunately, flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program, commonly known as NFIP. Even renters qualify to purchase the special flood insurance on their contents.

The last time I visited Baton Rouge my favorite time was sitting back and watching the barges float down the Mississippi River. It felt like Mark Twain was looking over my shoulder at the impressive waterway. I saw the outside of the impressive Pentagon Barracks, which is not open to the public. The stories that establishment holds from so much history!

Emergency crews, rescue personnel and citizens will protect all they can. No rain for the next few weeks will help considerably. Remain strong, people of Tennessee and Louisiana. Keep the faith, Baton Rouge.


Bill Sasser, “Memphis and Baton Rouge brace for record-breaking Mississippi flood”

Baton Rouge Department of Public Works, “Drainage Engineering: Flood Awareness Facts”

Bill Lodge, “Obama OKs Flood Help”

Personal experience