Atchafalaya River expected to rise higher than normal

Water levels along the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers are being closely monitored by officials as spring quickly approaches. St. Martin Parish President, Guy Cormier, said he’s expecting the Atchafalaya River to rise higher than normal, but major flooding is not expected at this time.

“Anything can happen because it’s mother nature we’re dealing with, but as of right now what the projections are telling us is if everything stays the same and normal rainfall would happen between now and June we would probably see a rise in the river at Butte La Rose to around 18, 19 feet,” said Cormier.

Cormier said it’s concerning when levels get above 20 feet. As of now, officials believe the melting snow in the northeast isn’t enough to raise the water that high here. He said the last major flood along the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers was in 2011.

“The river got to 23.5 feet at Butte La Rose and it caused us some issues, not major issues, but it did cause some major flooding so we normally start watching between 18, 19 feet,” said Cormier.

Cormier said the Cairo river in Illinois drains into the Mississippi river. Cairo has now reached its peak level, and Cormier said that water is flowing south.

“That water has to flow our way, but we don’t think it’s enough to do any significant damage,” said Cormier.

Cormier said the parish recently asked for more water for fishermen and said these rising waters have actually helped. Henderson Mayor Sherbin Collette, who’s a commercial fisherman, agrees, saying Henderson Lake rose an inch since last week.

“You can look at the gauge here it’s at 14.5 feet. Well, if you go to any commercial fisherman who’s been fishing long enough you tell him the Atchafalaya river is at 14 feet he’s going to automatically know where to set his traps,” said Collette.

Collette said water levels at this time are perfect for the catch.

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