Mississippi River closed to protect levees

By: AP
By: AP

NEW ORLEANS -- A small army of engineers, deputies and even prison inmates is at work along the surging Mississippi River. They're keeping watch around-the-clock on the floodwalls and earthen levees holding back the water.

The levee-watchers are looking for any droplets that seep through the barriers, and any cracks that could turn small leaks into big problems.

Officials have made a series of high-stakes decisions aimed at protecting homes and businesses that sit behind the levees and floodwalls. They opened a spillway, choosing to flood rural areas with fewer homes in hopes of sparing Baton Rouge and New Orleans. They've also closed the Mississippi River at the port in Natchez, Miss., out of concern that barges could increase pressure on the levees. There were also fears that barges couldn't operate safely in the flooded river.

Port officials said the interruption could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of millions of dollars per day.

The river is already 3 feet higher at Natchez than a record set in 1937, and it's not expected to crest until Saturday.

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  • by Jasper Location: Bonifay on May 23, 2011 at 06:31 AM
    You know the river seems to have a straight shot towards the gulf. And if you close it, it backs up onto other property. This may be the reason you have this problem. The water will flow more faster and more smoothly if there's nothing to block it.Plus it will fill up the gulf with all kinds of man made and natural pollution. You might need to put right there at the mouth of the river a net to catch old appliances and logs and various other junk that will wind up in the gulf.
  • by I. Arlyin Location: Florida on May 17, 2011 at 09:28 PM
    Well if it hasn't crested yet there ain't no telling how high the water will get at the levee, might go over it.You know you can't plan for something that has never happen before. You can imagine what you might do in a situation, but it never goes according to plan.
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