The first bay is opened at the Bonnet Carre Spillway as it is opened by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norco, La. Thursday, March 8, 2018, to relieve flooding risk down river in New Orleans where the Mississippi River is expected to reach flood stage at 17 feet later in the week. Eight bays with twenty creosoted timbers each will be opened Thursday with possibly more of the 350 bays being opened through out the week. The Mississippi River is the third largest drainage basin in the world draining 41 percent of the water from the contiguous 48 United States. Heavy rain hundreds of miles away can cause the river to rise down in New Orleans.