Louisiana Ag Chief Wants Natural Disaster Designation Attached to Spillway Opening

May 11, 2011

Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is urging the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Risk Management to categorize the opening of the Morganza Spillway as a natural disaster.

“I am asserting that the flood waters will overtop the Morganza floodgates regardless of whether the spillway is opened or not,” Strain said. “Failure to open the spillway will result in potential damage to that structure which could result in more severe flooding. The Morganza Spillway will flood either way so therefore flooding from the opening of the spillway should be classified as a natural disaster.”

Strain sent a letter to the Louisiana congressional delegation on May 10 asking for their support to have the natural disaster designation applied to the opening of the Morganza Spillway.

In his request to the delegation, Strain pointed out that a manmade designation would not allow agricultural producers to make crop insurance claims. He said that “the purpose of opening the water control structure is for diversion of floodwaters to the AtchafalayaRiver. The rising water will overtake the control structure regardless of any opening or diversion.”

Strain said more than 18,000 acres of crops within the Morganza Spillway in the fore bay and tail bay will be inundated and lost for the current season. Cotton, soybean, rice, sugarcane, corn, wheat, sorghum, aquaculture and hay crops are among the commodities that are grown in the Morganza Spillway and AtchafalayaBasin.

Strain said he is hopeful that the opening of the Morganza Spillway and subsequent flooding of the AtchafalayaBasin will be designated as a natural disaster.

Source: Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry

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