Science Continues during Flood Recovery

Release Date:

All affected USGS scientists are alive and well, and our flood work continues...

Like many of you, we’ve been watching the flooding in Baton Rouge and other parts of Louisiana with shock and concern. Also, like many of you, we’re worried about family, friends, and loved ones. The U.S. Geological Survey operates field offices for the Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center and the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, and many of our employees live in the affected areas.

Flooding near Louisiana Water Science Center
The view on South Sherwood Forest Blvd near the USGS Louisiana Water Science Center office on August 15, 2016. Credit: James Fountain, USGSPublic domain

We are relieved to share that all of them are alive and well, although many have had significant property damage and several are displaced. Both field offices in Baton Rouge were closed until Wednesday due to flooding, but we are happy to say that we have been able to reopen and, with help from our fellow scientists and technicians in Ruston, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi, we’ve begun work to restore the scientific capabilities the flood destroyed.

Image shows a USGS streamgage by a flooded creek
This is our streamgage on Jones Creek at Old Hammond Hwy in Baton Rouge on August 15, 2016. Credit: Josh Schafer, USGS.

Our first order of business was to get to our streamgages. They form the backbone of the crucial water level and streamflow information that we provide first responders and our agency partners, like the National Weather Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and state agencies. We had several gauges go down in the flooding, but we’re sending crews to find out and get them back functioning again as soon as possible. In addition, we had at least 50 stations overtopped by floodwaters.

Image shows flooded roads with boats alongside the banks
Flow along 4H Club Rd under I-12 on August 15, 2016.James Fountain, USGSPublic domain

We’re also beginning the process of determining high water marks along the rivers and streams that we monitor, both in the Baton Rouge area and in southwest Louisiana, which also experienced significant flooding. We’ll keep everyone updated with our results as they come in.

The USGS would like to thank many of our employees in Baton Rouge, who, while their work centers were closed, joined the rescue efforts in their own communities. They made a big difference, even as some of their own houses were flooded or under risk of flooding. The USGS also wants to recognize the efforts of employees that traveled to Baton Rouge from other field offices and have literally worked from dawn to dusk to ensure the USGS science mission continued, which allowed our affected employees time to assess their damages and start to rebuild.