News / USA

    Rural Louisiana Has Mixed Feelings Over Flooding Plan

    A member of the Louisiana National Guard talks to a resident who did not want to be identified, as they reinforce the town in preparation for expected flooding from the opening of the Morganza Spillway, in Krotz Springs, Louisiana, May 17, 2011
    A member of the Louisiana National Guard talks to a resident who did not want to be identified, as they reinforce the town in preparation for expected flooding from the opening of the Morganza Spillway, in Krotz Springs, Louisiana, May 17, 2011

    As diverted water from the swollen Mississippi River flows through Louisiana's Morganza spillway and into the Achafalaya basin on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, thousands of people in the southern state are losing their homes, businesses and crops.

    The U.S. Corps of Engineers opened the spillway recently to protect the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans from major flooding. People in the flood plain, however, are paying a high price.

    As the flood waters pour into the woods, fields and small towns along the Achafalaya River, people and wildlife are pouring out of the region, seeking higher ground. Many towns closer to the source of the water, the Morganza spillway, are already evacuated. The spillway was partially opened by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to relieve the rush of flood water on the Mississippi River that could devastate the state capital of Baton Rouge and the historic port city of New Orleans farther downstream.

    In La Fourche Parish, in southern Louisiana, local officials are counting on levees as high as one-and-a-half meters to hold back flood waters, but some rural areas and homes outside the system likely will be inundated.

    Parish spokesman Brennan Matherne said people there are not happy about the coming flood, but that most of them accept the decision made by the Corps of Engineers to flood their region rather than the much more populated urban areas.

    “I think there is definitely mixed feelings," said Matherne. "I think most people who have settled here understood that they were building in a flood plain. I mean, we deal with disasters, unfortunately, almost on an annual basis - whether it be hurricanes, flooding or oil spills such as what happened last summer.”

    But Matherne says people in his parish are accepting of the situation because they will most likely escape the worst of the flooding. They understand the need to sacrifice for the greater good of protecting much of the state's economic assets and more populated cities. He says people in areas to the west, though, that are likely to have much higher water levels are not as forgiving.

    “As you go westward from here to Morgan City, when you talk to people from that area, I think a lot of people are frustrated and do not understand why they have to flood to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge,” said Matherne.

    Residents of other parts of the country sometimes wonder why anyone wants to live in the mostly swampy areas of southern Louisiana, where big storms and heavy rains are common, even when there are no hurricanes or floods to deal with.

    Matherne said the Cajuns, who are of French descent and other people who have chosen to live here like the outdoor life of fishing and hunting, as well as the warmth and friendliness of their neighbors.

    “People feel the benefits outweigh the risks," he said. "This is the type of area where these people love living in. Certainly, they are resilient.  People will always come back to rebuild here and live here because they understand what it means to live in a close-knit community. We feel we have a unique place and culture here.”

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, already is at work in the area that likely will suffer the worst of the flooding. But people who have been displaced are facing the loss of homes and other possessions that cannot be replaced easily. This is something that longtime weather watcher William Hooke finds troubling.

    Hooke, Director of the Policy Program at the American Meteorology Society in Washington, said, “You want to be very sensitive to the sacrifices of the people who have been displaced, the people who have been hurt and, I think, take an extra measure of reaching out to them, not just at the state level, because the state has been clobbered by the BP oil spill and by Katrina and everything else. "But the federal government needs to reach in and do a little better to maintain that social contract.”

    Hooke said people living in flood plains should buy flood insurance and do what they can to prepare for disasters, even if years go by without one. He questions the idea of maintaining homes, businesses and infrastructure in low-lying areas that are likely to flood often.

    “Early on, we had reasons for wanting to build right by the river. We didn't have cars; we didn't have railroads," he said. "So there were reasons for wanting to build in the flood plain, but no much any more. So the real strategy, if we could discipline ourselves to do this, is when buildings reach the end of their natural life in a flood plain area, we move out of the flood plain.”

    Looking at this year's flood, which was caused by snow melt and heavy rains to the north, and the massive outbreak of tornadoes that devastated large areas of the southern United States recently, Hooke said these extremes are to be expected.

    “People are saying this is the greatest flood since 1927; they are not saying this is the greatest flood ever. And those tornado outbreaks, we have had those before," he said. "The big one that people mention is the one in 1974. So the big signal in all of this is the natural variability on all kinds of time scales.”

    But although Hooke said natural weather patterns have produced this year's extreme weather, he does not rule out some effect from global warming that might influence weather patterns.

    “If climate is changing and there is global warming, and global warming is a reality, that has got to be accompanied somehow by changes in patterns of precipitation. The trouble is we don't know exactly how just yet.”

    Hooke has studied weather for more than 30 years and offers his observations and musings on weather in an online blog called “Living on the Real World."

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora