UPDATE: 10:15 p.m. – The Mississippi River is cresting in moderate flood stage right over 48-ft. and leaving the Steele Bayou Gates only open by less than an inch.
Because of this and constant rainfall, the Delta has been engulfed again from backwater flood, with farmers at risk of seeing no crops for the second year in a row.
Planting season is here, but so is the backwater flood in the Delta for the second year in a row. Livelihoods are drowning, and people in their own homes find themselves in danger.
Right off Satartia Rd. outside of Holly Bluff, farmer and businessman Charles Perry is again cut off by flooding relying on his tractor just to check the mail.
“It takes a toll going in and out to your house,” Perry explained. “You know if someone got sick or I and my wife got sick? I don’t know how we could get out of there. I couldn’t pick her up and put her in the tractor, so it’s a danger living on an island.”
Along with his son, Charles farms 1,000 acres of land beginning with corn in the spring. But as each day goes by, he falls one step closer to losing that income.
“When you start talking about a half-million or a million-dollar equipment note coming in the mailbox John Deere doesn’t care whether you’re underwater or not,” Perry continued. “They want their payments and you could make upon it with cotton, but cotton is a low price right now and cost a whole lot more to grow.”
Near the Sharkey County line, Clay Adcock has also been forced to hold off on planting as 75% of his 4,000-acre farm sits engulfed from backwater.
“The ground has to dry and it will really be pushing it for corn,” Adcock said. “And the unknowing and instability of not sure whether you’re going to have a crop or land to farm it really hurts your ability to prepare.”
There may be some hope with the National Weather Service projecting the Mississippi to drop five feet allowing the Steele Bayou Gates to open more, freeing up fields for soybean and cotton season. But the cry to finish the Yazoo Backwater Pump project is still for many the best solution.
“Senator Smith, Senator Wicker we need your help,” Perry pleaded. “We definitely need their help. Last year they said they were going to help us. Here we are again we need their help this year now.”
When asked about Delta wildlife making a recovery, farmer Clay Adcock predicts that it may take decades. Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson reported last week almost 450,000 acres of land in the Delta sits underwater.
VICKSBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District opened the gates of the Steele Bayou Control Structure on Tuesday.
The Steele Bayou Control Structure, combined with the Mississippi River and Yazoo Backwater levees, prevents the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers from backing up and further flooding the Delta.
Due to rainfall in the Mississippi Valley and Yazoo Basin in February, the Steele Bayou Control Structure’s gates have been closed since February 27. The structure’s gates are opened when elevations on the Mississippi River fall below the elevation of water in the interior Yazoo Backwater area.
National Weather Service forecasts indicate that the Mississippi River will continue to fall slowly over the next seven days.
“We have caught a break with the rainfall pattern over the past few weeks and are grateful that stages on the Mississippi River and its tributaries are gradually falling,” said Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard. “We remain vigilant as we enter the spring rainy season with an already elevated Mississippi River and interior Yazoo backwater area.”
District personnel and local partners will continue to monitor the conditions of flood control works, including levees, floodwalls and pumping stations across the district’s jurisdiction.