So, they’ve opened the floodgates and some 25,000 Cajuns must
now bear the brunt of what the Mississippi had in store for Baton
Rouge and New Orleans. The Morganza spillway is now throwing the
pent-up waters of Ol’ Man River into the little-known Atchafalaya
River Basin — a waterway that parallels the Mississippi on the big
river’s west and finally spews into the Gulf.
The decision sacrifices some of the little-known of Cajun
country in favor of the big city dwellers and may mean the end of
houses for thousands living in the basin and thousands more animals
suddenly faced with flooding where life had been relatively dry.
Several folks hurriedly spent their life savings trying to protect
their properties with hastily thrown-up dams and levies before they
headed for higher ground. Several towns are in the way, chief of
them Morgan City, which has a 20-foot floodwall but no assurance
that will keep the place dry when the walls of water reach there at
Years ago, the U.S. Corps of Engineers ran a stern-wheeler
down the basin, hewing to the river where possible, affording
passengers aboard the Newton a view of some of the wildest country
in America, soon to become some of the wettest. Morgan City was the
objective of the ride and loomed like a metropolis when it finally
Nobody knows for certain how many the Atchafalaya
diversion will affect but the area is estimated at 3,000 square
miles. Chances are the Cajuns there don’t vote like the big city
folk in Baton Rouge and New Orleans — but that, like the water
coming, may change things.
About the Author
Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.
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