Rising river in Morgan City draws crowds

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 25 at 10:02 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News

MORGAN CITY, La. -- The Atchafalaya River is roaring past Morgan City now.

Crowds of people from near and far are climbing to the top of the floodwall to see how deep the river is now, and some still worry.

"Well, I can't swim, and I sure can't drink all this water," said Barbara Lanceslin of Franklin.  "I'm  wondering what's going to happen, if the seawall is going to hold up or what's going to happen."

"Yeah, its a little scary," said Mandy Vidros of Pierre Part.

"I never seen it like this before, so it's kind of scary for me too," added Christie Bailey of Patterson.

"It's a sight to watch each day as it creeps up," said Arthur Espenan of Houma.

Now the river level is just below ten feet. The record is ten and a half, and the river is predicted to crest at eleven feet Sunday, but the mayor is not worried with the city protected by the 22-feet high floodwall.

"These were built as T-walls, these are not I-walls, and so there is good stability with those very deep piles," said Mayor Tim Matte.

"It's almost record level? Yeah, like I was saying, that's the first time I ever seen it that high," said Candice Bird of Morgan City.

"When my brother went climbing on the thing, I got scared that he would fall in," added her son Jamerson Williams.

"Did it scare you? Kind of," responded his brother Malachi Williams.

At the base of the wall, a small flood leaks through seams in the closed gates, and cascades into the drainage system.

The rush of spectators is bringing some extra customers to nearby businesses.

"Its mostly the people from out of town who come and look at the water, and see that we're open, and they come and visit," said Jo Ann Blanchard of Cafe JoJo's.  "I call them company. We have company every day."

The big concern all along has been backwater flooding from nearby Lake Palourde, which is why state transportation officials and the National Guard set up these lines of giant sandbags and Hesco baskets. But as you can see so far the water is not rising dangerously.

"So if they stay down where they are, I, as I said earlier, I sleep very well at night," said Mayor Matte.

"We were worried a couple of weeks ago, but it has gotten better since the water has begun to go down in Stephensville, and we;'ve gotten all of our sandbags in place," concluded Lanny Ross of  Stephensville.
 

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