Posted: May 5, 2011 11:34 AM by Russell Jones
Updated: May 5, 2011 11:34 AM
BATON ROUGE - Goverrnor Bobby Jindal is warning people that could be affected by spillways on the Mississippi River being opened to start making their evacuation plans now.
The governor gave an update on river levels this morning after a meeting with the Unified Command Group in Baton Rouge. He said the latest projections showed the Mississippi was expected to crest at "historic" levels in the coming weeks.
Governor Jindal warned possibly "record levels" of water could be coming through the state and that a slow-moving crest could last several days, putting "tremendous" stress on levees.
He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has officially requested permission to open the Bonnet Carre spillway next week. Col. Edward Fleming with the Corps said they should get an answer within 24 hours.
Col. Fleming said at this time, they have not requested to open the Morganza spillway yet, but could make a determination to do that within 24 to 48 hours.
Jindal warned people who live in areas that could flood if both spillways are opened to make their emergency preparations an evacuation plans now, instead of waiting for a decision to be made.
"Don't wait for this thing," Jindal said. "We've seen extraordinary action being taken north of us, that water is on its way here."
Jindal said preparations also continue at Angola Penitentiary. Tents and cots are being set up to house the remaining prisoners if they need to move to higher ground on the property, but the water is not expected to crest the inner levee at Angola at this time.
If a full evacuation of Angola is needed Jindal said it will be scheduled for next Wednesday. The evacuation of elderly, special needs and sick inmates is already scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Jindal said people in other areas should make evacuation preparations as well, just to be fully prepared in case they are ordered. He said like in hurricane evacuations the best policy is to be self-reliant, but they were preparing other measures to shelter people who may need additional help.
"If we have to provide transportation, we will, if we have to provide food and shelter, we will," he said.
Jindal says another briefing will be held tomorrow with further updates as they continue to monitor the river's level.