As the Mississippi River makes its springtime rise, Baton Rouge and state officials are keeping an eye on the water level.
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday declared a state of emergency because of the threat of flooding along the Mississippi River and elsewhere across the state, the Associated Press is reporting.
Edwards’ office says the declaration, which lasts until March 27, allows the state’s emergency preparedness office to help local agencies with flood response efforts.
Also on Thursday, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome issued a statement saying, “If river conditions warrant operational changes or may potentially affect City-Parish services, I will communicate necessary guidance.”
The river had swelled to 40.8 feet by 2 p.m. Thursday, according to National Weather Service data. The puts the Mississippi in major flood status, but the level is still well below the 47-foot levees. The Weather Service expects the river to continue to rise to a bit over 43 feet over the next two weeks.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway to allow controlled flooding of some of the river near Norco. This marks just the 13th time the spillway has been opened since it was built 90 years ago, and the first time it’s been used in back-to-back flood seasons.
In January, the Corps began flood control measures, which include levee inspections and restrictions on nearby construction.
Broome has encouraged residents to comply with authorities.