MISSISSIPPI RIVER FLOODS MAY AFFECT ROUTES IN AND AROUND LOUISIANA
As you've doubtless heard, the Mississippi River is setting all-time records for flooding as the crest moves southward toward Baton Rouge and New Orleans from Memphis. It is expected to reach Baton Rouge and New Orleans about the same time IFMR riders do, or a day or so later. We've been watching this situation closely because of it's possible impact on IFMR riders and others traveling to New Orleans. I checked yesterday evening with Mark Shirley, our Baton Rouge IFMR liaison (and pp of RC of Baton Rouge Capital City, plus past area HOG board member) for an update.
Mark reports that local officials are fairly confident that their existing levee system and other measures by the Corps of Engineers are sufficient to protect both Baton Rouge and New Orleans from flooding, but outlying areas may be affected. In order to lower the level in the river itself and reduce the strain on the levees, the Corps is opening the flood gates of tributaries all along the river, which is resulting in flooding in low-lying areas along these tributaries, often as far as 30-40 miles from the Mississippi itself. Interstate highways are unlikely to be affected; but state and local roads may be.
If you are traveling to Baton Rouge/New Orleans from the west, to minimize the risk of encountering flooded roads, Mark recommends that you plan to cross the Mississippi BEHIND the crest of the flood, which means at Vicksburg, MS, or further north. This may mean changes in your current route plans. He suggests crossing at Vicksburg and continuing east to I-55, then using I-55 or one of the other major US highways to travel south toward New Orleans.
Mark is coordinating with RI convention staff and local law enforcement on changes in the route from Baton Rouge to New Orleans due to flooding. He will also serve as a 'control center' for IFMR riders enroute to Baton Rouge who want to check with him about changes and local conditions as they aproach the area. I encourage you to do that. You can reach Mark at his office 225-769-5711 or cell 225-931-9744. If you call him, be sure to thank him for the great volunteer Rotary service he is providing to help make the IFMR POLIO PLUS rides a success.