BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Jindal held a Unified Command Group meeting with state and federal officials on the impacts of the rising Miss. River. Following the meeting, the Governor held a press conference to give an update on state efforts to combat river flooding, including the sinking of a barge in St. Mary Parish, which the Governor will visit today, aimed at preventing backwater flooding.
Governor Jindal said, “The crests have been lowered modestly in a number of places in Louisiana, but there is still a significant amount of water coming our way. Even with the lower projections, we know this water will impact households and families and that is why the National Guard and local officials are working around the clock to keep our people safe. I want to caution citizens to listen closely to your local officials. Pay attention to warnings and any voluntary or mandatory evacuation notices if you live in the parts of the spillway that is projected to be impacted.”
The Governor said the Morganza floodway has 125 gates, of which the Corps said 11 are now open to allow water to flow into the spillway. The Corps reports that the water is not rising as quickly in the Spillway as they expected because their projections used 1973 data, which is not specifically geared to this exact situation, and because of drought conditions absorbing much of the water, which were not factored into their projections. The Corps also updated their projection maps to account for not operating at as high of a capacity than they initially anticipated.
Troopers, Guardsmen and LDWF agents are patrolling the Morganza Spillway area and keeping motorists from obstructing the roadway and shoulders. State Police and the Coast Guard are monitoring those still in the Spillway area through overflights using FLIR – an imaging technology that senses infrared radiation. FLIR technology detects heat to create a “picture” assembled for video output and can help pilots detect warm objects against a cold background when it is dark. LSP also uses this for search and rescue missions of missing children. State Police has three helicopters with this technology. State Police is also using Night Vision Goggles in their flights – an optical instrument that collects tiny amounts of light, to identify anyone who is in potential impact areas.
Over the weekend, DOTD began closures of roads that are affected by the Morganza Spillway opening. Travelers should visit the 511la.org site to receive the latest information on road conditions around the spillway and across the state. DOTD does not expect any additional closures of La. 1 over the Morganza Spillway as the Corp continues to open bays.
GOHSEP activated its First Call emergency notification system to notify people of the Morganza opening. GOHSEP used First Call to place targeted phone calls to individual homes and businesses within the Morganza Spillway.
The Governor also said that yesterday, St Landry’s Parish President announced a mandatory evacuation for areas South of Hwy 190, inside the Atchafalaya Basin – including the Three Mile Lake area. The following parishes have voluntary evacuations in progress: St. Martin, Iberia, and St. Mary. The Village of Delta in Madison parish is considering evacuation because of its proximity to the Mississippi River.
In support of State and Parish requirements, the Louisiana National Guard has approximately 1,100 guardsmen mobilized for this emergency. Currently, LANG has deployed National Guard Liaison teams to 19 affected parishes.
DOTD has 351 staff members and 276 trucks and equipment actively deployed in flood prevention efforts. To date, DOTD has delivered 65,806 sandbags, and provided 28,550 linear feet of HESCO baskets across the state in support of its flood protection efforts.
Northeast Louisiana: In support of Parishes in Northeast Louisiana, Guardsmen continue to support parishes and the 5th Levee District’s efforts to monitor levees, distribute equipment and supplies, and to fortify levees in East Carroll, Madison, Tensas, and Concordia Parishes. Guardsmen are also assessing areas in LaSalle, Catahoula, and Avoyelles parishes in preparation for potential backwater flooding.
· Yesterday, Louisiana Guardsmen assisted in the identification of 19 new Sand or Pin Boils in Northeast Louisiana. Guardsmen have now located and flagged approximately 119 Sand or Pin Boils to date: 60 in Concordia Parish, 52 in East Carroll Parish, 5 in Tensas Parish, and 2 in Madison Parish.
· In response to an overnight request from Concordia Parish, LANG Aviation assets are conducting sling-load operations to fortify and contain a leak in the HESCO barrier and contain Sand Boils between the river and Vidalia Convention Center.
· In East Carroll Parish: Sunday, 8,400 sand bags were delivered to Jimmy Davis Landing and Henderson Landing in East Carroll Parish in support of levee fortification efforts. To date, in East Carroll Parish alone, DOTD has hauled more than 10,000 cubic yards of sand.
Assumption Parish: Yesterday, National Guard teams completed assessments of the project areas in Pierre Part and Bayou L’ourse in conjunction with Parish officials. Thus far, the Guard has constructed over 6,850 feet of Tiger Dams. Today, Guard teams will continue constructing and installing operations on this project (Total project is 8,500 LF). The Guard anticipates completion of this project by tomorrow. DOTD is close to completing the flood protection barrier needed along La. 663 in Assumption Parish. To date, DOTD has delivered 182 cubic yards of sand and has installed a total of 570 linear feet of HESCO baskets. Only 600 linear feet of baskets will be needed to complete the barrier and ensure flood waters do not inundate La. 663 or nearby neighborhoods.
St. Landry Parish: Yesterday in Krotz Springs, Guardsmen continued assisting the parish and DOTD by installing 1,500 feet of HESCO and Super Sand Bags (RIBS). To date, the Guard has constructed and installed 2,240LF on this 10,000 LF project.
· Today, Guardsmen will continue installation of HESCO and Super Sand Bags on this project and expect to be done by tomorrow.
· National Guard teams are also assisting the Sheriff’s office in conducting levee security operations.
· In an effort to ensure Krotz Spring has a stable flood protection barrier before waters reach the area, DOTD leased a specialized sand machine called the CASTR30 or sand-slinger to the project site on Sunday.
Terrebonne Parish: In Houma yesterday, National Guard crews assisted the parish in completion of the 2,650 feet of Tiger Tube project around Greenwood Middle School and Bayou Black Elementary School. Today, Guardsman will continue providing patrols on this project in order to keep the barrier secure.
Ascension Parish: At the Aben worksite near Donaldsonville, National Guard teams are assisting the parish by providing technical assistance on the construction of sand bag berms for the reinforcement of the levee system.
St. Martin Parish: National Guard Soldiers continue working with the Sheriff’s Office to secure evacuated areas.
East Baton Rouge: National Guard Soldiers are working with the Sheriff’s Office and conducting security patrols within the parish in order to secure the levee. DOTD engineers is monitoring River Road Downtown at North Street, Scenic Highway (U.S. 61B) south of U.S. 190, River Road south of Brightside, U.S. 61 near Thompson Creek, and U.S. 190 at the base of the Mississippi River Bridge in East Baton Rouge Parish for seepage issues.
ST. MARY BARGE PROJECT
The Governor said the opening of the Morganza Floodway causes waters in the Atchafalaya Basin to rise – and once passing through Morgan City and Berwick, these waters will force water to the east through Bayous Chene, Boeuf and Black, into Lake Palourde and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway -- causing backwater flooding.
The submersible barge project is designed to reduce the flow of backwater flooding by restricting flows east through Bayou Chene into Lake Palourde and the GIWW. This project will force Atchafalaya Basin waters south and to the southeast into unpopulated areas and wetlands that could benefit from the freshwater. Several hundred feet of sheet pile, three crew boats, three spud barges, four tugs, 17,000 tons of rock/rip rap, 14,000 cubic foot per second pumping capacity and a 500'x120'x30' submersible barge are all being employed as part of this project. Today, all four barges are in place, over 500 feet of sheetpile has been driven. Rocks are now being placed to stabilize and close the sides of the structure. This project gives Amelia, Stephensville, Gibson, Belle River, Pierre Part and many other communities protection in this flood fight.
The Corps made available 27,000 linear feet of HESCO Baskets to CPRA for the Bayou Boeuf (BUFF) locks in St. Mary Parish. CPRA gave over 6,000 linear feet of this HESCO to the town of Amelia and more than 2,000 feet to Ascension Parish.
The National Guard is continuing the construction of approximately 25,500 feet of HESCO barrier in order to fortify and elevate levees to prevent backwater flooding in Morgan City and Amelia – under 24-hour operations. Morgan City worksite: Today, National Guard crews continue to conduct maintenance and repairs as needed on the 8,000 feet HESCO barrier emplaced. Amelia worksite: As of this morning, Guard crews completed 5,240 feet of HESCO barrier. (Total Project will be 10,000 feet.) Siracusaville (near Morgan City) worksite: Yesterday, the Guard constructed and installed 495 feet of HESCO barrier and continue their construction today.
With around the clock operations throughout the weekend, DOTD has now hauled a total of 14,368 cubic yards of sand in support of the construction of a flood protection wall for the town of Amelia in St. Mary Parish. Additionally, DOTD hauled 2,080 cubic yards of dirt in its efforts to support LANG, deployed 20 trucks to haul material to the site and 3 dozers to assist the parish. DOTD is also supplying three excavators to help construct a levee along Avocca Island Road in St. Mary Parish.
Over the weekend, LDWF had a total of three reported bear sightings, due to the rising floodwaters. LDWF has a mobile command unit in Krotz Springs and is operating 24 hours a day with 205 agents, 103 ATVs and 2 amphibious airplanes, in the event residents need assistance or rescue from floodwaters.
Phase III of offender evacuations from Angola began this morning (total after this phase will be 3,500 inmates evacuated). In this phase, approximately 1,000 offenders will be evacuated from LSP to Avoyelles Correctional Center (AVC), Dixon Correctional Center (DCI) and Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (EHCC). Probation and Parole agents are providing escort assistance for this operation.
Eight agents from the Donaldsonville Probation and Parole District began providing service to Assumption Parish this morning through community policing activities which may include patrol duties, providing security for distribution centers, and evacuation assistance. Probation and Parole agents are also supporting the Department's operation by providing 3 agents every 12 hours to man boat patrols to monitor the LSP levee system. DOC worked throughout the weekend by providing 310 offender work crews to support local sandbagging operations in five parishes.
EPA contractors and DEQ personnel participated in the removal of more than 200 hazardous materials containers at a boat launch located on Atchafalaya River at Highway 3172.
DHH is monitoring the needs, emergency response plans and evacuations of hospitals and nursing homes. To date, 23 patients have been evacuated from one hospital, and 79 residents have been evacuated from two nursing homes in Concordia Parish. Two additional facilities have notified DHH of plans to evacuate in the next few days – an adult residential care facility in Morgan City and a nursing home in New Roads.
DHH behavioral health clinics in the impacted areas are reviewing client schedules and taking steps, such as securing computer equipment and patient files in case of flooding of the clinic sites. Residents with behavioral health needs can call their local behavioral health resources if they need assistance. The La. Spirit line was rerouted to the national Oil Spill response line after the BP oil spill. That national line is now taking calls from flood victims in crisis as well. DHH is releasing this contact information today.
Today, DHH's medical entomologist will begin the necessary steps to monitor the mosquito populations of impacted areas, which begins the process of working with the Centers for Disease Control in case additional assistance, beyond local capacity, is needed for mosquito control. In Assumption Parish: DHH Region 3 Sanitarian Director is working with a local parish police juror and the owner of an oxidation pond in Pierre Part to ensure proper steps are taken regarding the flooding of the pond. In Concordia Parish: DHH is working very closely with the Vidalia Water System, which sandbagged its wells on the riverside of the levee. The water level is about 1 foot from the sandbags for water well # 2 and the water is just getting to the base of the sandbags for water well #3.
As of Sunday evening at midnight, no Red Cross or CTN (critical transportation needs) shelters had been opened. DCFS, working with the Red Cross, has 13 primary and secondary shelters ready to open in the Morganza and Atchafalaya areas.
St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Iberville, Assumption and Terrebonne each have two shelters ready to open; Iberia parish has one. DCFS has 52 staff on standby to be deployed to shelters when they open.
DCFS staged a 16-head shower trailer with eight sinks to the staging site in St. Martinville, as well as 67 toilets and 26 sinks to potential shelters in St. Martin, St. Landry, St. Mary, Assumption, and Terrebonne. Toilets and sinks for Iberia and Iberville parishes are on standby for rapid deployment upon request from parish.