The Basin/Spillway flood map shows the flooded passage in store for our travel later this week.

The whole family’s looked foward all year to the end of this week: Ann receives her bachelor’s degree at L.S.U.  Some months ago, we made plans to attend the ceremony in Baton Rouge Friday afternoon, spend the night there, and travel for a day trip to New Orleans early Saturday morning to celebrate with a jazz brunch in the French Quarter.

Now along comes the River in her muddiest, surliest, most swollen demeanor, enshrouding the itinerary in exasperating drama.  This trip extensively parallels the flood drama’s course, beginning 35 miles or so down Highway 190 with a crossing of the backwater flooding around Krotz Springs (where CNN had a news crew  all weekend and again this morning covering evacuations); then crossing the spooky Morganza Spillway bridge that usually crosses dry land but should cross over a  tawny 3-mile wide surge spilling 10-15 feet deep Gulfward through channel; and finally spending Friday and Saturday in the shadow of levees in Baton Rouge and New Orleans where the lusty current swells against the levee tops, also crossing on the I-10 aller et retour between Baton Rouge and New Orleans the Bonne Carre Spillway’s relief torrent streaming from the River into Lake Pontchartrain.  Should amount to some interesting, maybe even breathtaking, scenery?

We have to go, of course, but the scene is working hard on my nerves–I think I’d enjoy it much more without the excitement.  Anyway,  suspecting these are memorable days, I decided the event is not only blogworthy, but blogworthy from day to day as the crisis unfolds.  So this is day 1 installment of the saga.

Today’s news up until midday has been a little encouraging in that the crest for Baton Rouge and New Orleans has been achieved, and similarly, the projected water levels in the Basin and Spillway has been lowered 6 inches to a foot.  The levees continue to hold, also.  Modest good news, but good.  The news still doesn’t eliminate serious concern for the levees, because the crest is going to last for almost a week and then only slowly dissipate–in other words, lots of water yet to pass under the proverbial bridge, and every day adds 24 hours to this extended test of the groaning, straining levee works: The potential for levee failure and disaster may be a smidgen blunter, but the threat remains, and will remain, LARGE.

We’re also learning that an added concern for highway driving safety will be looking out for wild critters fleeing the floodwdaters on or near the high ground of roadways–ferral hogs, deer, alligators, bears (yes, Atchafalaya Basin Black Bears, the females of which species tend cubs this time of year). 

So the nail-biting build-up begins.  What drama will unfold the next 24 hours?  Or what drama will lessen?  I’d say we’ll find out “if the Lord’s willin’ and the creeks don’t rise,” but in this case, I fear the creek’s rise is inevitable.  So let’s  just leave it to the Lord’s willing.   More tomorrow . . .