With river levels already high, Morgan City watching Barry closely
MORGAN CITY - Morgan City has been dealing with high river levels along the Atchafalaya for 250 days.
"With hurricane season approaching and our first storm, it's causing double trouble," said Mayor Boo Grizzaffi. "We've got an elevated river and then we have the storm surge of the hurricane."
Because the water has been up so high for so long, officials are taking extra precautions by closing 23 of 38 flood gates along the river to make sure possible storm surge doesn't go up the flood wall.
"Of course we're protected up to 23 feet. It's an inconvenience to our businesses that operate on the unprotected side of the flood wall; so it's a big headache to them and an economic hurt," Grizzaffi said.
Lange's Towing is one of those businesses.
"When the river came up in 2011, this is the watermark here," said George Lange, pointing to a point about halfway up the wall.
With some simple math, Lange has estimated how high the water could come up and moved everything on the ground above that point.
"We expect they said a 5-foot rise, with the river being at 7.6 feet, that's going to give us about an 11-foot river," he said.
For residents and businesses in the same position as Lange's, George says it's all they can do.
"Every year during the spring or extreme high water, this is what we do. Nothing you can do about it."
Officials say it's been about 10 years since they've had a hurricane come through here, and some forecasts show the worst part coming through Morgan City. So they're having to refresh on all their procedures for a hurricane and, of course, monitoring it very carefully.