As the swollen Mississippi River continues to rise in the South, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a statewide emergency amid continuing torrential downpours and storms.
In an effort to relieve stress on New Orleans levees, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré spillway about 28 miles north of the city on Friday.
The opening marks the first time the spillway has been used twice in a single year and only the 14th time it has been opened since it was built in the aftermath of a historic flood that swamped New Orleans in 1927.
The Corps had decided on Thursday to open the spillway next week, but changed the timeline due to high amounts of rainfall.
“Regional rainfall caused the Mississippi River to rise 6 inches in the past 24 hours with more rain expected through the weekend,” Corps spokesman Matt Roe said in a press release. “These rains could elevate the Mississippi River above 17 feet with a peak as high as 17.5 feet at the Carrollton Gage. In an abundance of caution the operation date is being moved forward to ensure the safe passage of this high water by limiting the elevations downriver of the spillway.”
Air boat out at Bonnet Carre during the second opening this year. pic.twitter.com/kkeQvcdESU
— Corps of Engineers (@TeamNewOrleans) May 10, 2019
Dozens of motorists in the Houston area became stranded Friday by storms that left tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the dark.
On Friday, a person was rescued from a vehicle that was discovered flipped and submerged in a flooded ditch, the Houston Fire Department tweeted.