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Midwest’s flood waters to reach Louisiana before long

March 7, 1997

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The Midwest floodwaters will reach Louisiana in 2 1/2 weeks, forecasters say, but the lower Mississippi River’s elaborate flood control system should prevent any major damage.

Little flooding is expected because the Louisiana side is protected by levees, and towns on the Mississippi side perch on big bluffs.

At Baton Rouge _ where the Mississippi is expected to crest at 40.5 feet, or 5 feet above flood stage, on March 21st _ the city is protected by 50-foot levees.

By March 23, the river should crest at New Orleans at 17 feet _ safely below the city’s 20-foot levees. Largely below sea level, New Orleans also is protected by spillways and dams which direct water away from the city.

State officials still worry about urban flooding, though, because any major rainfall in the state would have nowhere to drain, said Brett Kriger, deputy assistant director in the state Emergency Preparedness Office.

Even before the Midwest runoff, Louisiana’s rivers and lakes were already swollen, and the state’s rainfall last month was about twice normal, Kriger said.

``We actually have been pretty fortunate in Louisiana for the past few years,″ Kriger said, adding, ``The law of averages eventually catches up with you.″

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