1927 Flood mural unveiled

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 2, 2009

As the crowd counted down from five and ended with a loud cheer of, “Hooahh!,” the 29th flood wall mural of the 1927 Flood of Mississippi was unveiled Wednesday at the City Front.

 “It couldn’t have been better,” said Nellie Caldwell, chairman of the Riverfront Mural Committee.

Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, who led the unveiling ceremony, said,  “It went perfect. We had a great little window of good weather.”

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Caldwell credits Crear in the completion of the flood mural. A Vicksburg native, Crear is the immediate past head of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division and the Mississippi River Commission. The 1927 flood, worst ever on the lower Mississippi, led to Vicksburg’s becoming a key site for Corps operations, including the creation of the Waterways Experiment Station.

The flood mural is positioned between the mural depicting the Land of Cotton and the mural depicting Carr Central High School, which are all placed according to a timeline.

After the curtain was pulled, the crowd took a moment to gaze at it while the Warren Central High School Big Blue band played patriotic music.

As he introduced artist Robert Dafford, Crear said, “The artist was able to take an idea, a concept, and bring it to life. He did it to the satisfaction of many.”

Dafford has painted every mural on the flood wall and said, “I’ve established a relationship with the river.”

The mural depicted the lives of many displaced citizens showing the refugee tents, steamboats and boats along the river and lines of people waiting for food and milk.

Crear said the idea of the mural was to, “portray the human side of it. It was to portray response and recovery and various stages of how Vicksburg played a role.”

Floodwaters reached a crest of 56.2 feet but would have reached a crest of 62.2 feet if the levees had held up. The flood, which inundated 162,000 homes, displaced more than 700,000 people, some of whom were brought to refugee camps on high ground in Vicksburg.

Brig. Gen. Mike Walsh, commander of the MVD, spoke of the 81st anniversary of the Mississippi Rivers and Tributaries Project, which was developed after the monstrous flood and has been an ongoing mission for the Army agency since. Walsh said more than $13 billion has been invested in the project in Mississippi since its inception and it has averted more than $24 billion of flood damage.

Though the project is only 80 percent complete, Walsh referred to it as “the premier example of engineering excellence.”

The event’s guest speaker was George Grugett, the executive vice president of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association.

Directly following the unveiling ceremony, Col. Mike Wehr, Vicksburg District commander and Waylon Hill, Water Division civil engineering technician, unveiled the 2008 flood marker on the flood wall, marking the crest of last spring’s floods.

The 50.9-foot crest was the highest since the 1973 flood and is considered the seventh highest flood in Vicksburg history.

There are three remaining murals left to complete the 32-mural Riverfront flood wall, which will all be unveiling this year.


Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at mchanprasith@vicksburgpost.com.