(Updated) Officials monitor rising Atchafalaya

Morgan City and Berwick officials continue to monitor the Atchafalaya River level to determine if more floodgate closures are necessary as the river rises.

Morgan City officials have closed the Freret Street gate and are in the process of closing the Railroad Avenue-Front Street gate. Berwick officials have closed the First Street gate, but didn’t yet have plans to close any more gates.

As of Tuesday morning, the river was near 6.7 feet in Morgan City, and is projected to reach 6.9 feet by Friday. The river should crest at 7.5 feet March 23, said meteorologist Jared Rackley of the National Weather Service’s Lake Charles office.

In Morgan City, the Eco-Service-New Park Marine-Baker Hughes East gate has water approaching that lower gate, but the city is leaving the gate open for now. Officials expect they may close this gate by mid-week.

At the Brashear Avenue West gate, water is on the roadway, but the sill allows the gate to stay open longer. Officials will try to accommodate business trucking traffic for as long as possible on that unprotected side of the sea-wall near that gate.

During Monday’s port commission meeting, U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Heather Mattern of Marine Safety Unit Morgan City said Coast Guard officials are dealing with issues pertaining to the high water as the Atchafalaya River surpassed the 6-foot flood stage over the weekend.

“We have quite a few restrictions in place. Everyone has been doing a phenomenal job,” Mattern said. “Because of that, we’re seeing minimum impact.”

The biggest issue the Coast Guard is dealing with pertaining to the high water is the Bayou Boeuf lock being shut down due to damage it sustained last summer. The Corps is working to repair that lock, but it will take three to six months to finish, which is the “extent of the high water season,” Mattern said.

Therefore, vessels have to use the Bayou Chene lock during the entire high water season, she said.

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