NEW ORLEANS—Thursday afternoon,the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans Office announced it was activating Phase 1 of its flood fighting procedures. The Corps orders the move any time the water level on the Mississippi river exceeds the 11 foot mark at the Corps' Carrollton guage.
Phase 1 procedures require inspection of portions of levee stemming from Baton Rouge to Venice. The inspections are strictly a precaution.
"We look for seepage. We look for ongoing construction in the vicinity of the levee; anything that could start to impact the levee section that we would have to address," said Mike Stack, the Chief of Emergency Management for the Corps' New Orleans office.
Stack says the river exceeds the 11 foot level every year, so there's no need for the public to worry. He says that 41% of the U.S. drains into the Mississippi River, and we are currently seeing a spike brought on by rainfall far up river. He adds that there's no indication that the state will face a repeat of last year that required the opening of the Morganza and Bonnet Carre Spillway.
The Corps expects the river to crest on February 15th and the water level to drop below the need for Phase 1 inspections shortly after.