Cities Prepare for High Waters as Mississippi River Nears Flood Stage

January 11, 2016

Mayors along the Mississippi River say their cities are ready for the rare winter flood taking place in the Mississippi valley after recent storms dumped large amounts of rain.

At a meeting in Vicksburg, Miss., on Jan. 8, leaders from several Mississippi river cities and the mayor of Vidalia in Louisiana praised the Army Corps of Engineers for its work in shoring up levees and preparing flood-prone spots for the high water.

Longtime Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said cities along the river were working together in a way that he had never seen before.

The river is forecast to crest next Friday in Vicksburg at 52 feet, which is considered major flood stage. Two days later, it is expected to crest in Natchez also at major flood stage.

Meanwhile, farther north the effects were being felt.

Jerome Cottam, who lives on the unprotected side of the levee at Tunica Cut-Off, said water continues to rise in the fishing camp community.

“Everything I can see from my house has water on it,” Cottam said.

Most houses in the fishing camp were elevated following the 2011 flood, so Cottam’s home is not in danger of flooding.

But Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said about 150 residents of the area have evacuated. No shelters have been opened, because residents made their own arrangements.

Cottam said there’s been little activity at the Nel-Win camp where he lives, although his brother arrived by boat to spend the weekend at his home, powered by a generator after electricity was shut off as a precaution Wednesday.

“It’s dead, there’s no one moving around,” Cottam said by telephone.

This rare winter flood has been caused by heavy rains in recent weeks. A three-day downpour Dec. 26-28 dumped 10 inches of rain over much of Missouri and Illinois.

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