Fears include being forgotten

Floodwaters are coming. On Sunday residents of Butte La Rose were told to evacuate that community by noon Tuesday.

After opening the Morganza Spillway on May 14, officials continue to change their estimates as to when the Atchafalaya River should crest in Morgan City. Some suggest the flow might change course and target Amelia and Gibson. Either way, the expected date of crest arrival is now May 29.

Morganza Spillway gates were opened to ease flooding on the Mississippi River and save Baton Rouge and New Orleans from the devastating damage experienced in Memphis, Tenn., and Vicksburg, Miss.

The alternative to flooding Louisiana’s large cities was to release a stream of water at a rate up to 125,000 cubic feet per second down the Atchafalaya Basin and create a flow 20 miles wide for the range of 150 miles from the spillway structure to Morgan City. On Sunday the water release rate was at 114,000 cubic feet per second.

The greatest point of concern for many is the unknown. “We don’t know what to expect,” said Melissa Reed of Gibson. “Nobody tells us anything.”

Some wonder now that Gov. Bobby Jindal and other politicians have made their appearances for the national media, by surveying a sunken barge in Bayou Chene and having photo opportunities with sandbagging crews in still dry areas, if big- name newsmakers will lose interest in what is taking place west of LSU and south of Interstate 10. Some wonder if they will be forgotten as floods take over their homes.

Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet said there are 1,663 structures that are of critical interest. The parish has also installed 25,000 feet of flood tubes and distributed more than 245,000 sandbags.

Terrebonne Councilwoman Arlanda Williams, who represents an area of greatest flooding concern in the parish, said that she does not think the lowlands have been forgotten based on the number of media outlets that call for updates on a daily basis.

“I am more concerned with making sure our government officials use our zip codes for mailing purposes … to determine the amount [of] assistance this area will receive in the aftermath of possible flooding,” Williams said.

Some residents are concerned about damage, others wonder about recovery. Each group wishes they knew exactly what to expect and when to expect it.