Plaquemines Parish residents worry about levee seeps

Plaquemines Parish residents worry about levee seeps

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As the Army Corps of Engineers considers opening the Morganza Spillway due to high river conditions, Plaquemines Parish residents worry about a number of seepage points near waterlogged levees. The Corps is conducting daily inspections and says for now the situation is stable, but concerns remain.

For more than 40 years, David Morgan has lived alongside the Mississippi River levee on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish, but he says this year is different.

“This whole levee’s like this, they got places where the water is seeping through,” said Morgan.

It hasn’t rained in five days but water seeping through saturated river levees is pooling alongside Highway 39 in six spots.

As the corps of engineers considers opening the Morganza Spillway north of Baton Rouge June 2, Morgan and his neighbors hope for relief.

“I think it’s gonna help, anything will help take the pressure off the levee,” said neighbor Richard Melerine.

The corps is conducting daily inspections.

Today Juliette Leblanc checked out 40 miles of levees below Chalmette, marking off potential problem spots, like a crack in the concrete armor on the river side of the levee.

"It goes down further, and most of it is below the water...that could be the seepage," said Leblanc.

But the corps says Plaqumines Parish residents shouldn’t expect to see a huge drop in the river’s height, if the Morganza Spillway is opened more than 100 miles upriver.

“We establish the crest for New Orleans at 1.25 million cubic feet per second with the Bonnet Carre, you will still see that level in New Orleans with or without operating the Morganza,” said Ricky Boyett with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Some residents say this is an annual event, and they worry about the seepage more from a highway safety point of view, than they worry about a breach of the levee itself.

“Oh yea, people running over the mailboxes, going onto the levees, I’ve never seen fatalities, but it’s possible,” said Melerine.

With hurricane season beginning in seven days, David Morgan worries about the possibility of a strong title push up the swollen river and the possibility of the river topping the levees.

“If you think about it you can’t sleep, all it takes is one ‘oops’,” said Morgan.

The corps says it's taking precautions, though it adds that the high river condition should end in July, a month before the height of the hurricane season.

Ricky Boyett with the Corps of Engineers says there has not been an official decision made to open the Morganza Spillway. But he says if the current forecast holds, the Morganza will likely be opened on June 2 to divert river water into the Atchafalaya Basin, north and west of Baton Rouge.

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.