Louisiana residents are warned to prepare for intensive chemical contamination from 1000’s of oil wells soon to be under water, despite the flooding in the battered Cajun country moving down river slower than predicted, the crest now expected at Butte LaRose, the midpoint of the river basin, on May 27 at 24.5 feet, and at Morgan City near the Gulf of Mexico on May 29 at 11 feet. Mandatory evacuations are in effect for some communities.
Parish officials welcomed news that the Army Corps of Engineers will likely open only 25 percent of the Morganza Spilway’s capacity rather than the formerly predicted 50 percent, a decision that could lower flood levels.
Though the river and surrounding bayous are topping banks, floodwaters expected to have already inundated some Atchafalaya Basin communities are moving slower than forecast according to Christian Monitor.
“A combination of factors, including a longstanding drought in the area, and the Corps slowing releasing water into the Morganza, to give wildlife a chance to escape, has slowed the water down,” said Scott Lincoln, a hydrologist and forecaster for the National Weather Service.
The delay gives wildlife and residents longer to evacuate.
Butte LaRose residents face “mandatory evacuation ordered Saturday morning, leaving the hamlet a ghost town,” according to CM.
“In the nearby town of Henderson, zydeco dance halls that would be packed on normal weekends stand empty.”
Although the National Guard is on the scene, earlier this week, Louisiana Bucket Brigade expressed frustration that their call to officials for information about emergency preparations have been denied.
“People living in the flood zone need to be prepared for serious chemical contamination and clean up,” warned Louisiana Bucket Brigade manager, Anna Hrybyk.
The Atchafalaya Basin holds approximately 4,000 oil and gas waste pits.
As much oil spilled into south Louisiana as the Exxon Valdez as documented in Josh Tickell’s film, FUEL. The corporations, some of the wealthiest in the world, never paid for the Hurricane Katrina oil disaster, instead expecting tax-payers to do so.
“The million-gallon oil spill at Murphy Oil during Hurricane Katrina is an example of the burden born by residents who not only face loss of property during disasters, but also chemical contamination. Murphy Oil failed to follow its hurricane preparedness guidelines, causing one of its tanks to be lifted from its foundation and spill oil throughout a neighborhood. Returning neighbors were aware of the oil because of its obvious presence, but never received any guidance from the refinery, state or federal government.
“Oil was everywhere – in the house, in the slab. It was unreal and we decided to move away,“ said Johnny Lewis, a resident of Chalmette at the time. (LABB)
“I got zero information from the refinery, zero from government who is supposed to be looking out for us.”