Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe said at a public meeting Thursday night that one of the reasons the Morganza Spillway has not been opened is that officials are afraid they won’t be able to close it. Loupe made his comments at a standing-room-only meeting he called to provide information about the rising river and the state of local levees. An official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says they are confident the system will perform as it was designed to do. The corps could make the move to open the spillway as early as this weekend, though officials stress no final decision has been made.
In other Mississippi River news:
— If the lower portion of the river is closed to ships, the U.S. economy could face a bill running into the hundreds of millions of dollars a day. The Port of New Orleans was told by the Coast Guard that a river closure between the Gulf of Mexico and Baton Rouge to deep-draft ships was possible as early as Monday. If the river closes, history shows the costs grow quickly into staggering figures. In 2008, a 100-mile stretch of the river was closed for six days after a tugboat pushing a barge collided with a tanker ship, spilling about 500,000 gallons of fuel and stacking up ships. The Port of New Orleans, citing an economic impact study it commissioned, estimated the shutdown cost the national economy up to $275 million a day.
— Entergy has warned utility customers that electrical service must be disconnected if water levels rise too high relative to primary lines. The utility company says it will notify customers when rising water indicates a hazard may occur.