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Flood threat looms in Butte La Rose

Posted: 12:20 AM, May 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-27 12:01:31-04

The Butte La Rose pontoon bridge will close at noon on Sunday because of high water.

The decision was made after the Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday the Morganza Spillway may be opened June 2 to alleviate flooding on the Mississippi River.

As the Atchafalaya River rises, those who live nearby say opening the spillway brings uncertainty to their properties.

“As you can see, the water is only about 15 feet from where we are right now, and they haven’t opened the locks. So, certainly, our concern is that you might see it come up all the way up to the house,” said David Phillips, who owns a camp along the river in Butte La Rose.

Phillips knows the threat of flooding is there, but he didn’t let that stop him from enjoying his weekend on the river before making preparations.

“We’re going to celebrate Memorial Day and spend the night here and just enjoy the time. And, tomorrow, we’ll worry about the water,” said Phillips.

The water is expected to get higher, but anglers who came out Saturday said they were going to give it their best shot.

“They have quite a few people that are out today, doing the same thing we’re doing: trying [to catch fish]. We have seen a lot of vehicles. In fact, at the boat launch, it’s so full, people are parking at the top of the levy,” said John Smith.

The last time the Morganza Spillway opened was in 2011. Some say the water is higher than it was years ago, which is forcing them to raise their furniture and prepare for flood waters.

“Everybody that we talk to that are from this area that have been here longer than we have, they say the same thing. They’re not sure because this is unprecedented,” said Phillips.

While the possible opening of the spillway is just a few days away, those who live in Butte La Rose believe the decision was made with the people in mind.

“I have faith in the Corps of Engineers, and I think they understand the effect of opening the spillway and what it’s going to do. There’s a lot of people that don’t just have camps; they live there,” explained Phillips. “If you don’t do it now, and the water goes over the locks, then you can’t do it at all. Then, you have a catastrophic possibility.”

The St. Martin Parish Government is holding a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Butte La Rose Fire Station to discuss the opening of the floodgates.