Backwater flood returns to the Delta

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YAZOO COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – Backwater has pushed its way back into farmland in the Delta putting homeowners and farmers on edge.

The water levels at the Mississippi River by Vicksburg and the Steele Bayou Gates are very similar to how the 2019 backwater flood began.

One week after the Steele Bayou Gates were forced to close the flooding is back, rain runoff and backwater in the Delta has nowhere to go. Painting a similar picture to how the 2019 flood began putting a big setback on agriculture business.

“It’s just exactly like it was in January of 2019,” Yazoo County farmer Clay Adcock told us.

Since January 14th the Steele Bayou Gates at the foot of the Delta remain shut as the Mississippi River rose into flood stage expected to crest at 45.5-ft. this weekend.

“Last year I was probably not as concerned with the same elevation this year because I know what can happen,” Adcock continued.

Trapped behind the gates the backwater has piled up to almost 92-ft. above sea-level, enough to take over 337,000 acres of land where livelihoods are grown.

“You just don’t like it full this time of year because spring is coming,” Adcock explained. “The snow melts coming and a lot of things that you see typically are coming.”

The good news right now is planting season is still a month away and by Feb. 2nd the Mississippi River is predicted to drop below flood level allowing the Bayou Gates to re-open.

“Corn will be planted at the end of February and into March,” Yazoo County farmer Smith Stoner said. “And we still have time to get those planted and stuff so we’re really staying optimistic and hoping for the best.”

“Farmers and me particularly are always optimistic,” Adcock stated. “The record breaking things that had to happen in 2019 to cause that flood the chances of that happening this year are not that great.”

Still this early flood highlights how vulnerable the South Delta is without any pumping system and in this short lived backwater damage is already done.

“One of our main revenue generators is hunting and out of town people coming into this area,” Stoner said. “But they’ve already shut hunting season down. That really hurts some small businesses and with the pumps in place we wouldn’t have to worry about that.”

“The pumps would have cut on at 87-ft.,” Adcock told us. “That was the level they compromised at were at 92 now. So it would have pulled roughly five feet of water off here now.”

Yazoo County farmers who have been working closely with the Army Corp. of Engineers about finishing the backwater pump project with the Environmental Protection Agency tell me those talks are making progress. They should have more details from the agency coming up in the next few months.



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