Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mississippi River and Baton Rouge

Uss Kidd last weekend we rode the Mississippi River Levee on bikes to see what the water looked like.  And it was high.  I pulled some pictures from a few years ago and a pack dog hike from even further back so compare with the levels.  And we will head down there this weekend to see what has changed.
Frank keeps saying things like “historic” and “incredible” and “unbelievable”.  But I think it is, at this point anyway, just water under the bridge.
USS Kidd april 2007
USS Kidd in April  2007               and May 2011
 USS Kidd floats
The USS Kidd is a WWII ship sitting in our port and open for tours.  In the 2007 photo you can see the levee wall way in the distance.  In 2011 the water is 1/2 way up the levee wall.  The Kidd sits in a floating frame so that at low water it is actually out of the water and sitting on the frame.
Here are more from various years:
2007  Mississippi River Bridge, we call this one the “New Bridge” even though it was built over 30 years ago.

The Mississippi River rises every year.  This year because of the record snowfalls and rain in the Ohio Valley we are getting more than usual.  This is the 2008 crest.  There is a structure used for the occasional river boat that comes along.  It used to fit the Natchez Queen, Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen as they steamed up or down river between St. Louis and New Orleans.  But the companies went bankrupt about 8 years ago.
2008 04 08 008 2008 04 08 001 2008 04 08 002 2008 04 08 003  2008 04 08 0042008 04 08 005 These two are of the gambling Casino and the walkway to it.  In Louisiana we cannot have a land based casino, well except for the Harrah’s in New Orleans due to special dispensation from God.  But all others are floating.  And remember our illustrious Governor Edwin Edwards?  Well, they tried to get him on many things in his years in politics but the only thing that ever stuck was the fact that he sold the very last Casino Permit to his friends and he and his son got kickbacks.   This is the Belle of Baton Rouge Casino.  It was first required to leave port every 3 hours for at least 45 minutes but when it was determined that it might be dangerous due to the heavy river traffic they allowed it to stay in port.  You can see the water up to the batture, or grassy area of the levee but not on the cement levee wall.
bike dntn BR 4-11-10 017
You really can’t see exactly how high the river is here in April 2010.  This is Frank on the levee a bit further down from where the Casino is.  You still see the New Bridge.  The river is very wide, maybe close to a mile or more.  bike dntn BR 4-11-10 034
And here is the walkway to the USS Kidd, high and dry in April 2010.

Old Bridge on Miss
Here is the “Old Bridge” that was built in the 30s or 40s.  It is upriver from the New Bridge and still very much used.  The state opened the third bridge just up river in New Roads from the Old Bridge last week.  Previous to the newest bridge there were ferry crossings on the river but the flood covered the landing making the ferry inoperable.  My friend Plugga will be upset, he uses the ferries because he is afraid to cross the bridges.

This is the river now.  Those barges are actually on the river itself and the water is covering the batture between the river and the levee.  The herons are having a great time fishing in the shallows.  Frank is sitting on the sandbags they put at Main Street and River Road to bring the levee height up at that point because it is a road crossing.  There are several businesses on the batture side of the levee, mostly having to do with river stuff.  Or construction.  In the sandbag picture you can see how the street rises behind Frank.  Before the levees that was the actual river bed.  It has moved a bit in these thousands and hundreds of years.  And that is what it is trying to do again at the Old River Structure in Morganza.  Sound familiar?  Yes that is the structure they want to open that will send water down the Atchafalaya Basin.  Which is where the Mississippi River actually wants to go naturally.  The river is kept in is present course by man made structures.  Scary?barges are on river  barges on rivesr edge batture flooding frank on sandbags
I am standing on top of the levee for these photos.  There is maybe 5 or 6 feet to the top.  The levee has a temper.  It knocked Carrie right off her wheels!heron fishing  levee elevationCarrie fallinghuge tree in river  This is the elevation mark on the levee top at Main Street.  The next one down read 42.8 feet.  And all sorts of debris are washing down river.  I can see someone’s house maybe, and a telephone pole?  Hope it is just a tree.
pilings in river Riverboat pier sandbags tugs on standby Here are the tugs waiting to be needed if river traffic gets into trouble with the fast current and rising waters.  More sandbags down the way.  My friend who is an engineer specializing in these things says those sandbags will never hold if the water gets that high.  It is simply to make people feel better.
This is a stostop sign on roadp sign on the batture road. 
It is pretty sure they will open the Morganza Spillway.  It will flood out some 2500 people.  And while I am sorry they will lose their homes and land, I know the spillway was there before they were and they knew the risks of the opening.  The Federal Government will pay restitution for 4 years to the farmers and fishermen so I can’t feel too badly for them either.
I will be on the Bonnet Carre Spillway this Saturday heading to Destrehan to bring a bike to my vet cousin and son Matt.  I will try to get some pictures from that as well.  It is pronounced “Bonnie Carry”.

And the good thing about all this……..the fishing, crawfishing and shrimping will be bumper crops for the next couple of years.  Prices will be fabulous and that is the history of Louisiana for long before man set foot here.  The Mississippi River is not easily tamed.  And we still need to respect it for what it is, nature.


  1. Glen - the pictures are great - I can't believe people keep building in those same flood areas. We had a 'dry' river bottom in So. Cal. that a developer built many, many homes in the river bottom. Guess what, it kept flooding and people were so surprised each time. ???

    Hugs - Marie

  2. Thanks for the pictures! I feel so bad for those affected but if the refineries shut down, I suppose we'll all be feeling some affects. They're saying the water is going to be slow to recede - just devastating! I'll be looking forward to seeing more pix as the water rises. Stay safe!


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