VICKSBURG, Miss. (WJTV) – It’s that time of the year again where all the snow north of us melts and combines with rainfall to overflow the Mississippi River. The Army Corps of Engineers and others are on emergency watch.
Those Steele Bayou Gates are sealed. Meaning no rain or runoff north of the Issaqueena/Warren County Line levee can go anywhere. Since the Mississippi River is in minor flood stage and rising the Army Corps of Engineers is in full swing to see what the backwater could do to farmers.
In the northern outskirts of Vicksburg low-lying roads and properties south of the levee are already going under.
“Our place over there is raised off the ground by about 20-ft.”, Zack Montpelier, who owns property off Washington St. said. “So, you know we don’t have anything under ours. River level right now if it comes up another half a foot it will be in our camp yard over the ground by about one foot”.
The current forecast has the Mississippi cresting in a minor flood stage just under 45-ft. Living outside the levee people off Washington are used to floods and switch from hunting to fishing off the road.
“Down its way easier because we don’t have to ride through the floodwaters”, John Michael told us. “There are a lot more opportunities when the water is down. It’s kind of hard to find the fish when it’s flooded”.
Both outside and inside the Steele Bayou gates, U.S Army Hydraulic Engineers have mobilized to monitor flood infrastructure as backwater sits at 88.4-ft. and is also rising.
“We are holding out 2.3-ft. of flooding from the backwater area compared to Mississippi River water levels”, U.S Army Engineer Justin Giles explained. “We are predicting the backwater area to get between 90-91-ft. Approximately 170,000 acres flooded”.
These levels aren’t high enough to get into most homes or engulf highways. But engineers acknowledge if the Yazoo Pump projects were completed backwater may not get this high.
“The pumps would turn on at 87ft.”, Giles added. “And they would have been continuously pumping since March 15th. If pumps were there that elevation would be lower”.
The flood stage is predicted to reseed after Easter. The rising Mississippi River levels have also backed up the Yazoo River forcing authorities to close down Wolf Lake to any recreational boating in Yazoo and Humphreys County. There are exceptions if you own any property around the lake but you must go at a no-wake speed.