This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

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Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 High Water ā€“ Ten

Today there was a mass meeting of emergency personnel at the Butte La Rose store, down near the boat landing. I parked a little way from it and just watched for a couple minutes. There must have been a hundred people spread out in small groups of four or five, all engaged in what appeared to be very serious conversations. Some carried clipboards and wrote things on them, checklists were checked and to-do items crossed off or completed as I watched. Some carried little notebook computers and fingers swept over keyboards or pecked the keys one at a time. One person who had to be a higher-up in the mix of agencies literally hurried from one small group to another, stopping only long enough to exchange a word or two and get a nod in return. The whole thing looked somewhat disorganized, but not chaotic. You could see that all these people had a part in the flood response, though some seemed to know their role well and others were looking for clarification.

I found some people from the Louisiana Dept. of Environmental Quality. They were here to pass the word to homeowners that any hazardous materials could be placed at the roadside and a contractor would pick them up. I think they were actually going from house to house putting notices on doors or speaking to the residents if they were at home. The timing might have been better if this had been done last week or the week before, since almost no one with a house in Butte La Rose is still here. We had the usual collection of old, partially filled paint cans and I gathered them and put them out as requested. There were some old gasoline containers too. They were gone an hour later ā€“ so fast! I had the feeling that the contractor who picked them up was watching me, knowing I was one of the few people who knew about the hazardous pickup, and when I appeared at the curb they pounced on the paint cans, thereby justifying the contract they had with the state. I am being cynical, but actually Iā€™m glad somebody thought of doing this.

The water continued today to not rise. It has been about the same for the last four days. The media and the authorities continue to warn that even though the river is not rising as fast as predicted, it will rise to unprecedented levels in the next seven days. It surely is not a good time to let your guard down and become complacent. But you can see in the reports that there is concern that all of this might have been overhyped. Still, it is better to expect too much and not get it then to downplay the significance of high water and have people be unprepared. There certainly was sufficient warning this time.

The river is at 21.04 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, rising to 25 feet in the next five days. Hopefully it will begin to flatten out after that. I wish we could watch it when it is that high. But we will have to leave Saturday morning.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Corrick family said...

I'm reading from Big Bend National Park in the Chihuahuan Desert in west Texas where we are in extreme fire danger. We haven't had a drop of rain since September. I've been following you for a few weeks now. Please continue to stay safe, I hope the predictions are wrong and Butte La Rose is spared the destruction of the water.

May 20, 2011 8:44 AM  
Blogger jim said...

I guess water is not the problem, it's where it is. Thanks for the comment. Hope you get rain in moderation soon. Jim

May 20, 2011 9:57 AM  
Blogger shoreacres said...

I smiled to see your remark that "in the reports... there is concern that all of this might have been overhyped."

There's no question the media loves to sensationalize. Many of them have the souls of ambulance chasers - the bigger the wreck, the better. And the impulse of politicians, bureaucrats and decision-makers of every stripe to cover their rear ends is well known.

But you can't program nature like a computer. There are too many variables to take into account, too many surprises awaiting the unwary.

Personally, I've taken a variant of the old Chicago political saying as my mantra: Evacuate early and often. If it turns out evacuation wasn't necessary, go home and rejoice.

Seems like "early and often" would work for floods, too. Safe travels tomorrow.

May 20, 2011 7:56 PM  
Blogger shoreacres said...

Just heard the mandatory evacuation's been postponed until Monday. There's some ambiguity in the reports I've found about whether it's due to a later crest, a lower crest or both, but it sounds good.

May 20, 2011 9:20 PM  

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