Deputies all over Louisiana Cajun country were warning residents to head for higher ground and most heeded it, even in places where there hasn’t been so much as a trickle, hopeful that the flooding engineered to protect heavily populated New Orleans and Baton Rouge would be merciful to their way of life. Days ago, many of the towns known for their Cajun culture bustled with activity as people filled sandbags and cleared out belongings. By Sunday, some areas were virtually empty as the water from the Mississippi River, swollen by snowmelt and heavy rains, slowly rolled across the Atchafalaya River basin. It first started to come, in small amounts, into people’s yards in Melville on Sunday. But it still had yet to move farther downstream. The floodwaters could reach depths of 20 feet in the coming weeks, though levels were nowhere close to that yet in the towns about 50 miles west of Baton Rouge.
Elsewhere, in an effort to keep a major shipping connection between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River open, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moved in a fifth dredge to dig sediment out of the Southwest Pass. A high river brings a huge amount of sediment, and the dredges were being used to keep the 45-foot channel needed for deep-draft shipping. Over the weekend, the Port of New Orleans said it had been told by the Coast Guard that shipping probably would continue largely unhindered on the lower Mississippi.
In other news related to the Mississippi River flooding:
—An emergency preparedness meeting for residents living close to the Mississippi River will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Leo Butler Center. Representatives from the city-parish Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness will be on hand to answer questions. The meeting is hosted by state Rep. Pat Smith and Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker.
—The Port of New Orleans has posted a real-time link to the Carrolton Gage, which Coast Guard officials are monitoring to make a decision about closing the Mississippi River. See the gauge here.