Corps begins inspection of levees as Mississippi rises
BATON ROUGE - Inspectors with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers walked the levees on Thursday, looking for cracks and erosion. It's routine work in preparation for rising waters in the Mississippi River.
As runoff from melting snow up north makes it way down south, river levels rise. The Corps expects the river reach a crest of 35 feet next week, well within safe levels.
Another concern are sand boils, water tunnels that burrow underneath the levees.
"Sometimes the sand boil can be up to a mile off the levee side," said Corps spokesperson Ricky Boyett, "we want to keep an eye on that because that could threaten the integrity of the levee."
The rising river means a faster current and that does make commercial shipping more dangerous.
"The life of a tow-boat operator happens at about five miles an hour," said Z. David Deloach of Port Allen, "So when you come out here and you can run down the river at 14 to 15 miles an hour, it gets scary."
Deloach points to safety protocols in place for high water like tug boats running at a slower pace and pushing fewer barges.
Deloach says he's used to it. "So every year the river goes up, and the river goes back down," said Deloach. "It has never failed, in 45 years of being on the river, of it going up and going back down again," added Deloach.