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
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid