Steele Bayou Gates open, but many Backwater Flood victims lost everything

Local News

For 125 days now the Mississippi River has been above flood stage keeping the Steele Bayou Gates closed and water trapped in the Delta. 

This is the longest time period the waters have been this high since 1927, but today the gates finally opened.

For many homeowners and farmers in the Delta those gates are going to need to stay open for a long period of time for them to really feel any relief. But just knowing the water is finally draining is giving them hope. 

The announcement came at 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning that after more than four months water was finally leaving the Delta. 

“I just felt relieved,” Holly Bluff native Smith Stoner told us. “I was like this is terrific news. We still got a long ways to go.”

“It’s a little relief and I’m glad, I hope they get to stay open for a while,” Dale Cockrell said. “And get some of this water off of us.”

But after months of many properties sitting under up to five feet of water, it may take more than open gates to make a difference. 

“Opening the gates is wonderful, but it’s not a permanent fix,” Delta Homeowner Lillian Paulette Gordon said. “It’s like putting a Band-Aid, so we live wondering all the time is it going to flood again?” 

According to District Engineers the gates being opened should flow about 19,000 cubic feet   per-second dropping the water depth one tenth of a foot a day. For one man this comes three months after he lost his home. 

“I went a week ago when the water was at its highest and my home is four feet off the ground,” Cockrell stated. “But water was in the stove and kitchen.” 

Now homeless dale’s had to move in with his neighbor Lillian Gordon whose home she and her husband built by hand that is barely staying afloat. And just to step outside their door and walk down their driveway the Gordon’s have to rely on rain boots to walk through water almost a foot deep just to get to and from their cars.  

“The levee’s begging to get weak and it’s seeping water,” Gordon said. “We have to pump 24 hours a day and it’s very tiring and I’m scared the levee will break.” 

Like many rural towns in the delta Holly Bluff did have a small grocery store and eatery owned and operated by the Brookes family. But we just got word due to the flooding cutting off the agriculture economy they were forced to close down Thursday for good.

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