Behind The Lens episode 21: ‘Commence operations’

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This week on Behind The Lens, Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a state of emergency as high waters on the Mississippi River raise flood threats across the Lower Mississippi Valley. As of Friday morning, the river was at 41 feet at Baton Rouge, where the flood stage is 35 feet. It was about 16.2 feet in New Orleans. Flood stage here is 17 feet.

The water levels prompted The Army Corps of Engineers to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway. This week marks only the 13th such opening since the spillway was built in 1931 and the third in four years.

The Lens was there Wednesday morning as a few hundred people came out to watch the spillway opening.  Representatives from concerned conservation groups were also on hand. We spoke with Kristi Trail, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and Kimberley Reyher, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

Also, a top official of China’s Wanhua Chemical Group told St. James Parish planning commissioners Monday that the company’s proposed plant in Convent would provide hundreds of new permanent and temporary jobs, be managed safely and include a detailed emergency response plan and fully-trained response teams.

But members of the public commenting Monday evening wanted no part of it. Opponents came out in large numbers, part of a growing trend of pushback against new industrial development in the parish.

Finally, parents who have kids attending different schools may soon get some relief, as many New Orleans charters begin working together to coordinate their calendars. Education reporter Marta Jewson talks about her reporting on the project.

Behind The Lens is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.

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