Flood Control

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Levee Inspection
A levee inspection takes place during the Flood of 1927. (Photo courtesy of Joan Weaver Becnel)

Flooding — A Constant Springtime Concern

The Great Flood of 1927 is considered one of the worst disasters in American history. One million people lost their homes and hundreds of thousands relocated. More than five hundred people along the Mississippi River were killed as the levees broke at thirteen places including one between Montz and LaPlace. This low-lying area of bottomland is still referred to as “The Slew.” The town of Montz was once a vibrant town with its own post office, train station, several groceries, and a garage.

Although there had been a Flood Control Act passed in 1917 as a reaction to the Hymelia, Bonnet Carré, and other crevasses, the 1927 flood prompted the authorization of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project in the Flood Control Act of 1928. The “levees only” policy of the past was discarded since it had failed to sufficiently protect those living along the Mississippi.

The Corps of Engineers adopted a new approach based on improved levees plus floodways, including a spillway to divert water into Lake Pontchartrain above New Orleans. The site chosen was the spot which had been affected by the nineteenth-century Bonnet Carré Crevasses and the area recommended by John McDonogh. Between 1849 and 1882, four major crevasses had occurred at this location. During the flood of 1849, a 7,000-foot-wide crevasse at Bonnet Carré flowed for more than six months.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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