Flood Fight Information
Dear New Orleanians and New Orleans Visitors,
The current rising level of the Mississippi River, at this time, is thought to have minimal impact to the public in the New Orleans area. New Orleans is not often subject to the type of river and tributary flooding seen along other parts of the Mississippi River due to the extensive water diversion systems that guide high river waters away from New Orleans and other river communities. In addition, our levee protection system is designed to handle 17 feet of water with 1.5 million feet per second but can actually handle up to 20 feet. Our office and all other partnering public safety agencies (local, state, and federal) are actively monitoring the situation.
As you know, the Bonne Carre Spillway has opened many of its gates. This structure has a design capacity of 250,000 cubic feet per second, the equivalent of roughly 1,870,000 gallons of water per second. We are still awaiting the decision to open the Morganza Spillway which could provide additional relief to the city (a decision is likely coming over the weekend or early next week). There is little expected rain in the area in the future and the expected rain north of us is thought to add minimal additional impact.
The forecasted crest is still expected to occur on May 23, 2011 at 19.5 feet. This forecast is not reflective of the possible opening the Morganza Spillway. Should the Morganza Spillway be opened, the forecast will change and the expected river levels at the crest will fall to 17 feet in the New Orleans area. But, remember, the levees are protecting the city up to 20 feet or higher depending on the levee location.
To clarify a possible point of confusion, the term "flood stage" is not indicative of the "flooding" we often associate with the term "flood" and is not reflecting active flood waters in the city. It is simply a term associated with the height of water in the river at that time that could possibly impact life, property, and/or commerce. For example, the flood stage of the Mississippi River at New Orleans is 17 feet. Additional water volume that produces a "stage" (water levels) over 17 feet will result in the water nearing the top of the levee with potential flooding without further levee protection. The next "stage" in a flood process following "flood stage" is titled "minor flooding." Remember, the levee protection in New Orleans is 20 feet or higher.
Please refer to the below links for additional information on the situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the City going to flood?
Without the opening of the Morganza Spillway, the projected Mississippi River level at New Orleans is approximately 19.5 feet. New Orleans levees protect the City up to approximately 20 feet, depending on the location of the levee along the river. In the highly unlikely event there is levee overtopping along the Mississippi River, the flood gates and flood walls behind the actual levee add an additional 2 – 3 feet of protection.
With the opening of the Morganza Spillway, Mississippi River level projections are not expected over 18 feet.
Are the floodgates going to close?
Of the 72 flood gates along the east bank of the river over 30 are closed and some are always closed to increase security along the river and specifically the Port of New Orleans.
As a precaution, if the river reaches 18 feet, additional floodgate closures could occur. Closure of floodgates will occur on an as needed basis.
Do we need to plan to evacuate?
Living in the Gulf region, everyone should always be prepared for evacuations. However, there is NO plan to evacuate anyone from the City of New Orleans because of this high water event.
Should visitors cancel their trips to New Orleans?
No. There is no imminent threat to New Orleans at this time.
Why are they sandbagging along the Riverfront?
Erosion prevention. The Orleans Levee District and the Corps of Engineers have been sandbagging areas of the Riverfront to prevent erosion of the levees. Wakes from large vessels have potential to erode levee structures which is the reason for the sandbagging efforts.
Press releases and Updates
State Advises Public To Stay Off Levees – 5/9/2011
USACE Releases Inundation Map – 5/6/2011
Gov Jindal requests Presidential Disaster Delcaration – 5/5/2011
Gov Jindal declares state of emergency – 4/28/2011
US Army Corps of Engineers – New Orleans
National Weather Service
Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East
Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – West
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness – Spring Flood Fight
Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LaBEOC)