Flood fight enters phase 2: Army Corps of Engineers puts boots on the ground

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Even if you've seen the Bonnet Carre Spillway open before, you may still be in for a first; have you ever seen it open in January?

The Army Corps of Engineers says the Mississippi River level is within sight of the tipping point that would trigger an opening. During a Tuesday afternoon press conference along the river, the Corps offered some insight into what we can expect to see in the coming days, building up to the expected announcement that the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening will be needed to keep New Orleans safe.

The Corps official recommendation to open the Spillway will be delivered on Wednesday to the man who makes the final call—the Mississippi Valley Division Commander.

In the meantime, New Orleans District Commander Rick Hansen says more intense scrutiny of the levees begins Wednesday.

“As we transition into phase 2 of flood fighting operations, it'll be a deliberate effort by levee districts, state agencies and by the Army Corps of Engineers to put boots on the ground and physically inspect every part of the levee system every day,” says Hansen.

The Carrollton gauge marking the river level uptown has reached fifteen-feet. The corps says that's equal to about one-million cubic feet of water per second flowing through New Orleans.

It will be 25 percent more water and roughly two more feet before the level is reached that requires the opening of the Bonnet Carre. The soonest that could happen is Saturday, January 9th.