Yesterday, the media roar was considerably louder than today. This morning’s WWL radio talk in New Orleans, for instance, abandoned the flood story in favor of the local police administrative controversy after Mayor Landrieu went on the air earlier, confidently proclaming “There’s no question about it, the city is safe from flooding.”
Of course, what else would the Mayor say? His city’s economy floats (no pun intended at floodtime?) on tourism. Standing before the camera wringing his hands and whimpering, “The levees could fail!” would be bad for business.
While his rosey confidence surpasses more reserved officionados holding press conferences and doing media interviews, the overall assessment today seemed reservedly hopeful, even cautiously optimistic, because the flood control engineering is working according to design.
I noted a number of encouraging indications:
- Partly because of the drought-parched Spillway bed, the Morganza Spillway water is advancing much more slowly, as a result delaying the Basin and backwater flooding.
- Levees up and down are holding.
- The delayed backwater arrival is giving workmen more time to shore up improvements that will keep water out of more places once the water does show up.
- Best of all: no one’s been assaulted by an angry mama bear fleeing the inundated Spillway with her cubs.
But no one, even Mayor Landrieu, is ready to break out the sparklers and champagne. The River may not rise any higher downriver because of the
Spillways’ relief, but the record level will last for weeks, much longer than ordinary floods. Also sand boils and seepage continue to raise nagging concerns and require high levels of vigilant maintenance since untended, such phenomenon can precurse catastrophic levee failure. Sand boils and seepage are notable, in fact, near campus in Baton Rouge where we will attend the commencement ceremony Friday afternoon.
So, not a bad day = a good day in the floodwatch? I suppose, but let me end noting that so far in “so far, so good” means more weeks of watching and waiting, hoping today’s relative uneventfulness will be the first in a series that will last until the flood subsides. But the nigh-apocalyptic River levels are record-setting, the backwater flooding won’t really get going until later this week, and while the system is doing what it was designed to “so far,” it’s never been tried under conditions that will last as long as the current (again, no pun intended :=). If I just have to have something to worry about, the 2011 Mississippi River Flood remains worthy of a good fret.
More tomorrow . . .