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Brown: Stay safe as Red River crests above flood stage this week

RandyThis has been one of the wettest springs in our history — especially over the last three weeks. Cloudy and wet days (and nights) have been holding temperatures down (for the most part). In contrast, both our springs and summers in recent years have been dryer and warmer than normal.

During the month of May in 2015, Bossier City received almost 10 inches of rain (against a normal average May rainfall of almost 5 inches). Upstream on the Red River, parts of Northeast Texas and Southern Oklahoma received all-time record amounts of rainfall during the month of May, which has brought the Red River in Bossier City/Shreveport to flood stage (the likes of which we have not seen since 1990 when the Red River crested at 35 ft. (5 ft. above flood stage). Before 1990, the Red River had not been above flood stage since April of 1945 when it crested at 38.3 ft.

Though the Red River has caused flooding problems and other seemingly negative situations over the years, the river has always played a major positive role in the development of Bossier City/Shreveport. It would probably be accurate to say neither Bossier City or Shreveport would even be here today if it were not for the Red River.
In the opinion of many people, the Red River should be the Louisiana/Texas state line, with Shreveport in Texas and Bossier City in Louisiana. I have heard this for most my life. Personally, I am glad that this is not the case and I love the fact that both Bossier City and Shreveport are in the state of Louisiana and are also the twin cities we know them as today.

With the lock and dam system put in place on the Red River over the last few decades, our river is now navigable all the way down to the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. As such, the river has become a recreational area for boating, skiing, fishing, etc. The Bassmaster Classics hosted on the Red River both in 2009 and 2012 (and other fishing and water related events) have been a huge economic boom for our area. Also barge traffic is fairly heavy both importing and exporting goods from the Port of Shreveport Bossier. With the soon-to-open Benteler Steel and several other positive growth opportunities taking place at our port, tremendous growth is projected in the years to come. The Red River is a tremendous asset and growth component for our future.

Current forecasts call for the Red River to crest in Bossier City/Shreveport Thursday at 34ft. (4ft.above flood stage). So, even though this is not a record flood, it is going to cause some problems for us all. There are already some road/street closures and there may be more.

As was reported on our BPT Online website over the weekend (and also reported by other local media outlets), the Bossier Sheriff’s substation on the Red River is preparing to close until the Red River subsides. Personnel from this substation will be dispersed to other locations until the substation on the river reopens.

Bossier Parish inmates were used to assist with sandbagging around the perimeter of the substation over the weekend — placing sandbags at the location. By doing this so early, Bossier Sheriff’s Department officials say that they will now have the substation secured and as such, will be in an even better position to help parish residents when the Red River crests on Thursday..without having to worry about the substation too (at the same time).

I applaud our Sheriff and his staff for such forward thinking in their commitment to serve the residents of Bossier Parish! I also applaud all of our other Bossier Parish officials and city governmental bodies for their efforts and planning related to the Red River flood that we are experiencing.

I have been watching the Red River along the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway for the last week or so. The water has risen quickly and is sure to rise even more. It is clearly evident that we are seeing things completely submerged that we have never seen underwater before. Also, there is a huge number of people fishing practically off of the shoulder of the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway. What an amazing sight it is.

To the residents of Bossier Parish and our area, I hope that you all stay safe and protected from the high water levels of the Red River in the days ahead. Protecting both our homes and our property is vitally important to us all.

Please stay safe. Be sure to call for help and assistance, if you need it. We have a great network of trained emergency professionals and law enforcement personnel that can provide assistance when needed. So, call on them. May God be with us all and protect our lives, homes and property both now and in the days to come.

Randy Brown is Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He can be reached at rbrown@bossierpress.com

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