Evacuated US residents must wait and hope

Citizens of lower central Louisiana have yet to see any water since the opening of the Morganza Spillway but our correspondent says they are not off the hook yet.

    The big question this Tuesday morning is - where's the water going? 
     
    The question equals a level of frustration that has become unbearable for the people of lower central Louisiana.

    Residents there have been told to evacuate their homes as water from the Morganza Spillway cascades their way in an effort to relieve water levels in the Mississippi River around the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
     
    The authorities say recent droughts have made the land so parched that it's absorbing far more water from the Morganza Spillway than anybody thought and slowing the advance of the water dramatically.

    Residents are not off the hook yet, however, the water may still engulf their homes.
     
    People like Bud Turner, his two sons and two family friends, who I found stacking sandbags along the walls of the
    home in Krotz Springs that Bud and his wife have shared for 40 years.
     
    "They've given us a mandatory evacuation order," says Bud.
     
    The Turners are living in a nearby trailer, hotels are too expensive, and most of their neighbours have moved out too for what might be several weeks.
     
    "It depends on the crest of the river at the Butte La Rose area because that's where all this water's coming in," says Bud.

    "It's backing up from the Butte La Rose area and once it crests there and starts falling then this water will not continue to rise and it will start falling afterwards."
     
    If the water gets to his house it's likely to surround the area for weeks.
     
    So Bud and his family have been putting sandbags, provided by the local authorities, all the way around the edge of the building and then plastic sheeting up to the roof in the hope that when the water comes it will at least not penetrate the wood work and go inside the house.
     
    Krotz Springs' chief of police Norman Mouille has only been in the job since January. 
     
    Mouille says he thinks 25 per cent of the town has moved away in the face of possible flooding and he and his seven officers will be on hand to keep those who remain in line.
     
    "[We'll just do] extra patrolling and watch the homes while they're going and make sure none of the kids play in the water and nobody goes swimming," he says.
     
    The US Army Corps of Engineers has been working round the clock to build temporary levees in Krotz Springs which lies in a natural bowl in the landscape.
     
    Sergeant Adam Tucker was in charge when I stopped by. 
     
    "These levee systems that you see in the background are wrapped all over the town so any kind of water that you see coming up that way will be diverted," he says.
     
    Back at Bud's house the word is the authorities are "Whistling Dixie" - in other words, they don't really know how bad the flooding will be.
     
    But the work to protect the family home goes on just in case.


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