Was a bit late leaving Ronnie's home in PORT BARRE, LOUISIANA. Around 7 am, we drove East on US 190, looking for a spot to park SPIA. Because of the many Bayous and vegetation, there was not much space for a pull-off. Finally, at the Highway 71 Interchange, we did get a spot. Later in the day, the Wildlife Police told me ..."..no one ever parks there."
Walked East on US 190.
Many black water bayous reached out left and right into the "jungle" of growth on both sides of the highway.
There is a 1-mile long bridge - I would call it a "causeway", about 50 feet off the ground. Much of the flat land below was under water, but also here and there a road from nowhere leading to some homes or mobile trailers back in the trees.
Rounded a curve and there was the sign "KROTZ SPRINGS, Est 1917". Beyond the small collection of gas stations and food shops were two very large bridges rising into the sky.
The bridges were surrounded by a series of dikes...
I stopped to chat with a work crew from the town of KROTZ SPRINGS...not supposed to walk on the bridges, but some folks do." I accepted the offered bottle of ice water, thanked them and walked up the left-hand bridge.
Passed the sign "ATCHAFLAYA RIVER" when something in my memory realized that I knew exactly where I was and what was happening here.
Around 1900, the Mississippi River did NOT flow past NEW ORLEANS. It flowed in a different channel some 50 miles to the West. Around 1920, the Corps of Engineers installed a dam where three rivers came together: The Red River, The Atchafalya River, and the Mississippi River, diverting the waters of the three rivers from the normal channel to the newly prepared channel which took it past NEW ORLEANS.
I was walking over the bridges of the original Mississippi River Channel.
A series of flood control gates were installed some 20 miles South of the Dam to keep the Mississippi "River from overflowing its banks during "high water" as it passed by NEW ORLEANS. The Wildlife Agent told me the last time the diversion gates were opened was in 1973.
The diversion gates allowed the flood waters to leave the "new" Mississippi River channel and flow back into a wide "flood plain" which essentially follows the "Old" channel...
A couple weeks ago, the diversion gates were opened again, flooding the entire flood plain and pushing water high along the many dikes lining the old channel. The Wildlife Agents have been parked along the now-flooded roads leading into the flood plain, monitoring wildlife movements as they have been forced out of the water filled lands onto the roads and dikes.
One agent said the waters are now receding - showing me the high water mark - about 10 feet above the current water level. Many roads are still under water, however.
Spoke with one local resident this evening...he is angry, saying the Corps of Engineers knew the river had already crested before they opened the gates...and in his opinion, the flooding of the vast flood plain, forcing many families to evacuate, was totally unnecessary. The flood plains today, are populated by many farms...nearly all with crops in various stages of growth...now all destroyed.
US 190 coming down off the bridges into the town of KROTZ SPRINGS.
The bayous are still there.
Please say HELLO to Shannon. Shannon is manager of a Casino located in the small village of
LIVONIA, LOUISIANA, where SPIA, AM & ME parked for the night.
DAILY REPORT: Walked 24 miles (difficult heat / humidity filled miles) today.
SEE YOUR IMPACT.ORG: Credit 24 miles @ $0.02 per mile = $0.48 for the day.
In the morning, will leave SPIA parked and continue walking East on US 190. We are close to BATON ROUGE, and may reach the city by tonight.