Evacuations advised in parts of SWLA after floodgates opened at Toledo Bend

Evacuations advised in parts of SWLA after floodgates opened at Toledo Bend
Toledo Bend Lake in 2012 (Source: Sabine River Authority Via Facebook)
Toledo Bend Lake in 2012 (Source: Sabine River Authority Via Facebook)

SABINE PARISH, LA (KSLA) - With rain still falling, the Sabine River Authority has opened all of the flood gates at Toledo Bend Lake by one foot due to rising waters.

The opening of all floodgates at  Toledo Bend Lake Wednesday afternoon prompted the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Department to "strongly advise" residents on the western side of the parish to evacuate in a Facebook post that has since been removed.

The sheriff's office has since shared a new post clarifying that no mandatory evacuations have been ordered, but that "According to Beauregard Parish Police Jury President, Rusty Williamson, there is a strong recommendation for residents living along the Sabine River to evacuate those areas."

According to Jim Pratt, executive director of the Sabine River Authority, Toledo Bend Lake was at an elevation of 172.96 feet as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

All eleven gates were raised when the lake rose to 172.7 feet.

As of Friday, the lake levels had risen to 173.76, according to a Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana Facebook post. All 11 gates wer still open at 6-feet.

Pratt said while he is carefully watching the lake levels, he does not anticipate record flooding like the area saw in 2016.

In 2016, all gates were opened 22 feet to alleviate flooding at the lake. All 11 gates can open at a maximum of 28 feet.

Pratt said he does not know how much more the Sabine River Authority will have to open the gates, but crews will do so in one-foot increments. He called it a "controlled release" in accordance with the Guide for Spillway Gate Operations in the license approved by FERC.

Once the water is released from the spillway, it will travel down the Sabine River and reach the gauge in Deweyville in three days.

Pratt hopes the current flooding in Deweyville will subside by the time the water from Toledo Bend reaches the area.

According to the National Weather Service, the Sabine River at Deweyville is at 26.32 feet in moderate flood stage. Major flood stage starts at 28 feet. Click here for the forecast.

The river is forecasted to crest at 30 feet by Thursday afternoon/evening.

However, there is a silver lining.

Pratt said drainage into Toledo Bend Lake from areas north is minimal. Most of the lake levels have risen as a result of rain from Tropical Storm Harvey.

This is a developing story. Stay with KSLA as updates become available.

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