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Story Archives: Revised crest levels lift spirits
|Revised crest levels lift spirits|
Although the Mississippi River is expected to rise to a record crest of 62.5 feet at Vidalia on Saturday, officials continue to express confidence in the mainland levee system.
They were also buoyed by the news from the National Weather Service on Monday that crest levels along the Black River on Concordia's western border have been lowered by six feet at both Acme and Jonesville.
In the meantime, the Corps of Engineers, the Fifth District Levee Board and the Louisiana National Guard continue to monitor the mainline Mississippi River from East Carroll Parish southward to Concordia on a 24-hour basis.
Fifth District Levee Board member Barry Maxwell of Concordia Parish said work is continuing around the clock to search for and monitor sand boils, one of the biggest dangers to the levee system if undetected. He said five sand boils were being treated on Lake Bruin in Tensas Parish, while one was found along the Vidalia Canal earlier this week.
"That one was spotted by a local resident," he said.
Sand boils are also being monitored at Lake St. John, Kempe Landing and Davis Landing near Winter Quarters in Tensas Parish and at Henderson along the Madison-East Carroll line.
"The levee board has 12 employees other than our office staff," Maxwell said. "Inmates are doing most of the sandbagging, especially in East Carroll and Madison."
National Guardsmen were monitoring two sand boils along the levee near Lake St. John and the Tensas Parish line on Tuesday, while Corps employees Byron Erickson of Hot Springs, Ark., and Evan Kostelka of Shreveport were near the Blue Hole at Lake St. John looking for sand boils and landslides. The two were patrolling a 72-mile stretch from the Blue Hole southward.
The governor's office reported Monday that 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 Tenses Parish, and 2 in Madison Parish.
Police Jury President Melvin Ferrington, whose office works directly with Governor's Office on Emergency Preparedness, said "everything is looking good. I think people are becoming more comfortable with the situation. The lower crests are great news and the rumors are not as bad as they were and that's a good thing."
He said he "feels comfortable with our levee system. The levee board and the Corps have worked hard in keeping us informed on levee system and the river. I think the worst is over even though the river hasn't crested. We will weather this."
In the Larto area of southern Catahoula Parish, news of the lower crests means that many homes may be spared.
Wayne Sanders served 36 years on the Catahoula Parish School Board and for decades has operated a grocery/convenient store on Larto Lake.
"There's water over the road about six to seven inches down at the Larto Dam at a low place there with about 46 feet elevation," Sanders said. "This road on the lake here is not going to go under" if the revised crest levels hold true.
He said this year's flood has been one of the hardest to figure during his lifetime.
"I was born and raised in the backwater," said Sanders, who has kept records on flooding for decades. "This has been completely different because the water we're getting into this system right now passed under that Mississippi River bridge over there at Natchez/Vidalia at one time. So it's truly a 100% backwater and different from what we've ever experienced."
He said it is also unusual that "we're having a flood in the middle of a drought. It's a whole different scenario than I'm use to."
John Stringer, Executive Director of the Tensas Basin Levee Board, said the revised crests issued Monday means that the Black River will crest at 49 feet at Jonesville and 47 feet at Acme on May 21, about six feet lower than original predictions. Flood stage on the Black at Jonesville is 50 feet.
"Basically, these new stages mean the difference between minor and major flooding at places like Larto," Stringer said. "Many may have moved out that may not have needed to in the end, but it's better to be safe than sorry. I'm grateful that the crests have been lowered."
Stringer said the Tensas Basin Levee Board is now focusing on south Arkansas, where the levee board has operated since the 1800s.
"Things are going as well as can be expected up there, same as down here," said Stringer.
"We jointly maintain the levee system in southeast Arkansas on the Mississippi and from the Arkansas River down to the Louisiana line," said Stringer. "The reason we're there is because historically that's where our flood threats came from -- Arkansas and somewhat on the Mississippi. There are Tensas Basin Levee District employees domiciled in Arkansas."
Stringer, too, is confident in the levee systems.
"They are intack," he said.
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