Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday Bike Blogging: River Flooding Edition

I rode down to the river levee on Saturday afternoon to see the flooding and take some pictures. On Friday, the Corps opened part of the Bonnet Carre Spillway because the height of the river at the Carrollton Gauge hit 17 feet. The Spillway was installed because, in the 1927 Flood, several levees were blown up between Baton Rouge and New Orleans to prevent the river from flooding New Orleans. Now, instead of blowing up levees, they open the Spillway, and water gets diverted into Lake Ponchartrain.


This is by far the highest I've seen the river is the last 10 months that we've been here. I typically see dry land for about ten yards past the chain-link fence.


As a comparison, in the photo below, I'm standing at about the level of the water, and the top of the levee is a bit above the height of my head. So the water level was something like 6 feet below the top of the levee at that point.


The Corps has a realtime chart of the river height at each location of measurement. One month is a good indication of how much the river has risen over its typical levels. The Carrollton Gauge is actually a little downriver of these photos. A river stage of 17 feet is considered flood stage, and the Corps claims that the river levee protects the city to 20 feet (ie, the lowest level of the levee in the city is 20 feet) It looks like the levee is at about 23 feet at this point.

The levee slopes right back down away from the river. Street level immediately behind the levee at that point is approximately six feet above sea level. I haven't actually stopped to think about that much, but it does drop off that quickly. Without the levee, we would be under water right now. They really weren't kidding when they blew up those levees in 1927.

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