Gov. Bobby Jindal says the Army Corps of Engineers is likely to open the Morganza spillway Saturday night or Sunday. Jindal says he spoke with Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh of the corps today and that a formal decision on whether to open the spillway on the Mississippi River north of Baton Rouge could come later today. “I’m confident in what they have told us that it is extremely likely that the spillway will be opened by tomorrow night, certainly by Sunday at the latest,” Jindal says. U.S. Sen. David Vitter says he also spoke with Walsh. Vitter says the corps plans to initially use about 21% of the capacity of the spillway, diverting about 125,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Mississippi. The corps has said the river’s flow is approaching 1.5 million cubic feet per second. The corps has recommended to the Mississippi River Commission, an oversight body, that the spillway be opened at that point. If Morganza is opened, water would flow 20 miles south into the Atchafalaya River. From there it would roll on to the Gulf of Mexico, flooding swamps and croplands. This will only be the second time the spillway has been opened.
In other news about the rising river:
— The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is urging Capital Region businesses to register with the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center at labeoc.org. Registered businesses can get news alerts and preparation tips, and have the opportunity to provide supplies and services and have a voice in the preparedness and recovery efforts. BRAC’s emergency preparation guidelines can be found at brac.org/emergencyprep.
— Exxon has shut three segments of crude oil pipelines near Baton Rouge, acting out of concern for flooding, according to Reuters. The segments, which transport crude oil to Exxon’s Baton Rouge refinery and Alon’s plant in Krotz Springs, have been shut down and filled with water until the waters recede.
— Oil refiners along the Mississippi River are considering diverting barges to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, located offshore at Port Fourchon. This would allow the crude oil to be unloaded and transported by pipeline to oil terminals in New Orleans.
—FEMA is urging people to prepare for flooding by making a plan and keeping flood insurance documents safe in a waterproof container. For information, click here.
—The high river waters are causing some wild animals to flee. If you find any displaced animal, contact the Louisiana Wildlife Rehabilitators Association at (888) 308-3922.