Louisiana has had some difficult years recently and 2011 could fit into that mold. We’re talking about the possibility of the water-laden Mississippi River overflowing and flooding surrounding areas in south Louisiana.
If we go back six years, we had Hurricane Katrina, the most devastating storm to ever hit this country. More than 3,000 people were killed and many more left homeless. Today, some six years later, we are still cleaning up the debris it left and restoring the homes it wrecked. And it will take some time more to finish the job.
Last year, the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast was the site of the biggest oil spill in history. Eleven people were killed in the rig explosion that helped cause it and an enormous amount of expense went into trying to stop it.
We were successful but it threatened our nation’s biggest source of commercial seafood. And the federal government’s halt to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico caused our offshore oil industry to sit idly by while we made up our minds what to do.
Our current threat has not produced its havoc yet and hopefully it will not. After many months of rain and melting of snow and ice up north, our river has swelled to record heights. The Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco was opened Monday and the Morganza Spillway northwest of Baton Rouge is expected to be opened later for the first time since 1973. Areas in the Atchafalaya Basin are expected to flood as a result and it could spread to other sections of southeast Louisiana.
Many years ago, the river had a lot more curvatures in it which were straightened to provide a more direct water route to the Gulf. But it also put more stress on the levees which could provide a threat to us with the river’s record high water.
As our state suffers through another threat to our well-being, we must get prepared to live with it and repair whatever damage is done. We’re used to that. We have done it before and we will do it again.