Posted: May 3, 2011 5:38 PM by Russell Jones
Updated: May 3, 2011 6:39 PM
BATON ROUGE - Gov. Bobby Jindal says news about the Mississippi River has "gotten worse" for Louisiana in the last 24 hours, prompting them to begin evacuating the Angola prison and possibly opening more spillways.
At a press conference today the governor said the latest forecasts predict the river will crest in Baton Rouge just under 48 feet on May 21, and that the crests could last several days. That would be the highest level on record since the massive flood of 1927.
Above all, Jindal advised caution and preparation over the next several days as more information comes down from the Corps of Engineers.
"We're planning for the worst but hoping for the best," he said.
Jindal said the Bonnet Carre spillway could be opened as early as Monday, and said opening the Morganza spillway was now "on the table", but they were still gathering data before making that decision.
One area in particular danger of flooding is the Angola state penitentiary, which is already seeing some localized flooding. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said they were already making some preparations, and Jindal said today heavy machinery was also being sent to the prison.
Sick inmates could also be evacuated beginning Monday, but the DOC spokesperson said they wouldn't give out much more information on evacuations for security reasons. Jindal said any evacuations would happen in three phases, with most prisoners staying in areas of higher ground at the facility.
Meanwhile, thousands of sandbags and other supplies are being prepared. The sandbags will be delivered to areas that could see sand boils, where water pushes under the levee and floods the land on the other side, by Friday.
Jindal said he has also asked for the new bridge connecting New Roads to St. Francisville to be ready for traffic by this weekend in case the St. Francisville Ferry closes, which would happen if the river rises above 53 feet.