MORGAN CITY, La. — With the Morganza set to open June 6, a temporary floodgate is in place to keep floodwater from spilling into five parishes in the southern portion of the state.
The Bayou Chene Barge is being installed in Morgan City.
The barge will keep water from flooding peoples properties once Morganza opens by diverting water to marshland. It was installed Wednesday and will reduce backwater flooding in five parishes including Assumption, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne and Iberville parishes. Federal funding will help pay for the $7 million project.
Gov. John Bel Edwards inspected the barge Thursday afternoon. Crews are continuing to install it, while adding sheet pile and large rocks around the structure.
"Once they open Morganza its going to take 10-to-12 days for that water to actually arrive here," Edwards said.
Water from Morganza is expected to reach Morgan City June 21 with about 10 feet of water.
The barge is just temporary. It was used successfully in 2011, the last time Morganza opened, but the state does have a more permanent plan in mind for the future.
"We're actually going to have a permanent flood gate constructed just a few hundred feet from here," Edwards said while inspecting the barge.
That's an $80 million project that should start next year and take about two years to complete.
"Then the next time this happens we'll be able to push a button and in an hour or two, we'll have this closed floodgate and we'll have this protected measure in place," Edwards said.
By Sunday, the project should be complete and will be ready to block water from entering those five parishes once water from Morganza makes its way down.