A steel, 10-ton floodgate was slowly raised Saturday for the first time in nearly four decades, unleashing a torrent of water from the Mississippi River, away from heavily populated areas downstream.
The water spit out slowly at first, then began gushing like a waterfall as it headed to swamp as much as 3,000 square miles of Cajun countryside known for small farms and fish camps. Some places could wind up under as much as 25 feet of water.
Opening the Morganza spillway diverts water away from Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and the numerous oil refineries and chemical plants along the lower reaches of the Mississippi.
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