Pearl above flood stage

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 4, 2013

Due to recent rains, the Pearl River is a little above flood stage, but officials do not foresee any danger of flooding to Washington Parish residences.

Bobbi Jo Breland, emergency management specialist in the Washington Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, reports the river is currently in the stage of minor flooding. With the river at 20.72 feet near Bogalusa as of Thursday morning, it has reached its crest and is expected to remain at that level for several days. Flood stage at that location of the Pearl is 18 feet.

Looking at the five-day forecast for the river, Mike Efferson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge Weather Forecast Office in Slidell, said it is projected to be at around 20.6 feet by Tuesday and could begin to drop by the middle of next week.

At the current river level, the areas most at risk of flooding are homes and recreational camps along the river, along with crops, woodlands and the Bogue Chitto Wildlife Management area, Efferson said.

Discussing why the Pearl River is higher than normal, Efferson said a couple of inches of rain have fallen in the last day or two.

“Then, before that we probably had anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of rain across the area,” he said, adding that the extra rain has flowed into the river.

Rainfall in the area, however, is actually about average for this time of year, with Baton Rouge at about 8 inches for the month and New Orleans at a little more than 5 inches, Efferson said.

In Bogalusa, Director of Public Works James Hall has been keeping a close eye on the river and the Bogue Lusa Creek, which flows through the city and drains into the Pearl.

“It’s not to its full height right now,” he said Thursday morning, referring to the creek. “It will probably take another day or two before we see the highest it will get, but I see no danger of any home flooding.”

The Bogue Lusa might seem like only a small creek, Hall said, but 75 square miles’ worth of rainfall, from areas throughout the parish, flow into it.

“Everything drains into it,” he said. “Everybody sees a little creek right there in Bogalusa and thinks that’s not much. But if you go out into the country and get 75 square miles drained into it, that’s a big area.”