ST. CHARLES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A couple thousand people braved 40 degree temperatures Sunday morning to watch the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, as water flows from the Mississippi River eventually into Lake Pontchartrain.
"It's amazing, it really is, because I've never seen anything like this before," spectator Tracey Lala said.
Many came bundled up, with cell phones and digital cameras in hand.
Dinah Nelson says, "We woke up at quarter to six, left the house at 6:15, that was in Madisonville and drove over here, we were the first ones here this morning."
"I like to see it on television but in person its more meaningful I think," C.W. Lartigue commented.
Here, you can witness the sheer force of the water from the Mississippi, rushing into the spillway.
"I'm like, wow, nature is something else. You have to consider where all this water is coming from, the benefit of the spillway," Baton Rouge resident Dawnis Michel said.
This is only the 11th time in it's 83 year history the structure was opened to relive the swelling Mississippi. It's a process that will take days but results are immediate.
As crews continue to pull pins, more and more water will fill into the Bonnet Carre Spillway. In fact, just a few short hours after the first bay opened, the area where many spectators stood to watch the action, will be covered with water.
Jessica Vaccarella says, "It's just really neat to see how it all rushes through and how all of this is going to be flooded."
Amongst the crowd, lots of kids!
Seventh grader Joseph Lala explains, "Our teacher, she drew a picture on the board of the spillway and told us how the cranes pick up the wood and stuff."
Parents say it's a geography lesson come to life.
"My kids came home from school talking about it and they wanted to see it so he got up, so we came," Tracey Lala said.
Pointing to her grandson, Mary Jane Orgeron says, "Even at our age, we've never seen it and we wanted to bring him."
It's certainly an awesome sight to see and something that protects countless lives and homes, along the Mississippi.