News / USA

Mississippi River Floods Threaten Homes, Farms, Refineries in Louisiana

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel in an airboat in the Bonnet Carre Spillway, as workers remove some of the Bonnet Carre Spillway's wooden barriers, which serve as a dam against the high water in Norco, La., May 9, 2011
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel in an airboat in the Bonnet Carre Spillway, as workers remove some of the Bonnet Carre Spillway's wooden barriers, which serve as a dam against the high water in Norco, La., May 9, 2011
Greg Flakus

As flood waters invade fields and homes along the Mississippi River in the states of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, officials farther south, in the state of Louisiana are preparing for the worst. Louisiana's governor is urging citizens to take action now.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still studying a proposal to open floodgates at the Morganza spillway in an effort to protect the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans farther downstream.  But opening the floodgates would inundate farm fields, forest lands and some residences in the area.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is asking people in the potential flood zone to start preparing now instead of waiting for a final decision by the Corps of Engineers.

“Act as if the Corps is going to open the spillway.  The best thing to do is to be prepared as if that decision is coming.  I do not want people waiting; I do not want them to hesitate about whether they need to make evacuation plans or move their valuables or build these levees,” he said.

The Morganza spillway is about 75 kilometers upriver from the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge.  Last week, the U.S. Corps of Engineers blew up a section of a levee in Missouri to protect river towns in Kentucky and Illinois, but flooding 52,000 hectares of farmland as a result.

Monday, the Corps opened the Bonne Carre spillway near New Orleans for the first time since 2008.  But the level of the Mississippi River is setting records upriver in places like Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi, where low-lying residential areas are being flooded.

But experts say the situation would have been far worse if it had not been for the levees, spillways and other controls that have been built along the river since the devastating flood of 1927 that killed more than 1,000 people and flooded large areas of the south, especially in Louisiana.

The other concern for officials monitoring the river crest is the presence of 11 oil refineries along the lower Mississippi that process about two and a half million barrels a day and supply about 13 percent of the gasoline used by motorists in the United States.

At least two of those refineries could be shut down temporarily by flooding.  Experts say if the shutdowns are short, a week or two, the effect will be moderate, but if they are shut down for many weeks there could be a prolonged rise in fuel prices.  U.S. motorists are already complaining about gasoline prices, now at the highest level since the oil price spike of 2008.

The flooding along the Mississippi and its tributaries is considered the worst in 80 years.  The cause of the flooding is snow melt and heavy rains in the northern part of the United States.  Meantime, southern plains states like Texas and Oklahoma are experiencing severe drought and high winds that have caused raging wildfires.  There has also been a record number of tornadoes along a path from Texas to Georgia that have killed more than 200 people in six states this year.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid