In 1927, a great flood inundated 27,000 square miles of land displacing 200,000 people. It had been caused by months of heavy rainfall throughout the Missippii River Valley. At that time, people thought the river had been tamed by the newly constructed levees. After the flood, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers undertook a plan to improve the levees and supplement them with floodways and reservoirs. One of the improvements was construction of the Bonnet Carre Spillway about 30 miles upriver from New Orleans. Engineers began designing it in 1929. By 1931, the mile and a half long control structure was completed and a year later the guide levees were built, containing the diverted water in a channel. It was first used during the flood of 1937, diverting water from the Missippii River to Lake Ponchatrain. It was last opened in 2008, and again on May 9, 2011.

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