Nightly News   |  May 09, 2011

Open spillways ease Mississippi river flooding

As officials redirect some of the swollen Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain to prevent New Orleans from being inundated, NBC's Anne Thompson takes a look at the long-term environmental impact.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this is anne thompson . this spring, the mississippi river refused to be tamed. some 30 miles north oftd new orleans , a deliberate rush of water in louisiana this morning. officials opening twat of the spillways' 350 gates, sending the swollen river to lake pontchartrain to keep new orleans from being inundated like new orleans . part of the plan following the great flood of 1927 .

>> there's going to be thousands of people who are affected by this very directly by having either their homes or their property flooded, and that's with everything working perfectly.

>> reporter: levees, essentially giant walled made by man or nature try to contain much of the miss where towns and cityies flood the area. what were once flood plains are valuable farmland, the newt reets in the soil feeding the world. and the flood protection is an area the side of illinois.

>> this is history repeating itself. we have lost our floodplains and wetlands, and people are at risk again. we can't let that happen.

>> reporter: today, the mississippi is not just spreading beyond its banks. it's rushing into its tributaries already swollen by rain. that means the yazoo river in mississippi has nowhere to go except flooding into homes and streets as well. as the flooding moves south, the army corps of engineers has asked permission to open a second spillway near baton rouge . if permission is granted, several communities will have to be evacuated including morgan city and houma.

>> anne thompson , janet shamlian to start us off, thanks.