Preparing for the worst

POSTED: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 5:01pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 6:40pm

The Mississippi River is rising fast, and now preparations to prevent a flood here are moving just as quickly.

Wednesday afternoon Governor Bobby Jindal activated the Louisiana National Guard to help keep the state above water. 150,000 Guardsmen will move equipment, sand bags and inspect levees constantly until the waters recede.

"This is going to be a marathon," says Governor Jindal. "We're not talking about just a couple of days of around the clock levee inspections."

Jindal also sent a letter to Washington D.C., requesting more troops from the Federal Government.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the Mayor's Office of Homeland Security unveiled their latest weapon. And we've seen it before. The same boom used in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill is being moved inland to battle back this latest crisis.

The Mississippi River is forecast to crest on May 23rd at over 47 feet. That's higher than some levees in the Parish. The boom will top any levee lower than 50 feet in the Parish adding critical inches that are the last line of defense.

Bryan Harman with East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works says "if it begins to over top that flow will begin to cut into the levee and it could ultimately lead to a failure... We could go from a little minor situation to a catastrophic situation quickly."

That catastrophic situation is a levee breach. "Once it breeches, there's no way to stop it," says Harman.

EBR Mayor-President 'Kip" Holden says he has signed a State of Emergency Declaration for the Parish. He will make it official Thursday. Holden says only time will tell how much damage is done.

"We just have to hope and pray that there's no breach in the levee because if that occurs then we are looking at a disaster in Baton Rouge."

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