River RisingThird flood in four years predicted in weeks

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Mississippi River at Vicksburg is forecast to rise to its 43-foot flood stage 12 days from now, on March 29, bringing the third flood to Warren County in four years.

High river stages south of St. Louis due to snow melt in the Midwest continued along the Lower Mississippi this morning, moving the Vicksburg gauge four-tenths of a foot this morning, to 39.8 feet. Based on river levels between Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Memphis, both already above flood stage, the predictions should hold, according to the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center in Slidell, La.

“It doesn’t look like we’ll change that,” said Jeff Graschel, service coordination hydrologist. “It’s dry in the Arkansas River valley,” Graschel said. “The models aren’t showing a whole lot of precipitation.”

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If the river at Vicksburg reaches the predicted level, Jackson Lane, Williams Street, Ford Road, Hutson Road and Round Alley in Kings will have water over them. Nearby Long Lake and Chickasaw roads, both with water running over them, have been closed to vehicular traffic since Monday .

Eddie Summers, 75, lives on Williams Street in Kings.

On Wednesday, he sat in the sun outside his home and recalled the 2008 flood that left him homeless days after he rented the house.

“I lost my clothes, my air conditioning,” he said of the river’s run to 50.9 feet at the Vicksburg gauge, the highest crest in 35 years and the first of three successive springs of high water.

“It was the worst I’d been through,” said Summers, who did not feel safe to go home for a year.

Doug Jeter, who farms more than 400 acres north of Vicksburg in the Chickasaw area, said the rising water has already affected his planting schedule.

“We’ll probably have at least 60 percent underwater,” he said, pinning his hopes on a minimal overflow so he can plant soybeans later this year. “We never plant too much anymore because of the water. It’s like, four years in a row now, and it’s coming up earlier.”