A ten-ton steel floodgate on River Mississippi at Morganza was opened, the first such eventuality in four decades, in a desperate effort to drain the swelling waters of the river.

As the spillway was opened by the U.S. army Corps of engineers, 600,000 cubic feet of water started gushing out per second, which will inundate 18,000 acres of farmland.

It is reported that apart from the farmlands, as many as 11,000 buildings and a wildlife sanctuary will come under water. But authorities' focus now is on saving Louisiana cities Baton Rouge and New Orleans from potentially devastating floods.

Now's the time to evacuate ... Now's the time for our people to execute their plans. That water's coming, said Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Officials informed the residents about the lifting of the huge shutters of the Morganza spillway and even a house-to-house campaign was conducted to make sure residents knew about the timing of the opening of the floodgate.

The rush of waters from the floodgate will likely sink an area of 3,000 square miles, at a depth of 25 feet in some places.