Casino raised as river hits 2 feet above flood stage LeTourneau prepares for ferry

Published 11:44 am Monday, May 2, 2011

With the Mississippi River 2 feet above flood stage at Vicksburg this morning, the barge holding one of the city’s five casinos was being jacked up to allow continued access to the property and, south of the city, LeTourneau Technologies was making plans to ferry employees to work by boat.

Lifting DiamondJacks Casino barge the equivalent of one floor was to be complete today. Work started Sunday and continued today as the river rose this morning to 45.07 feet at Vicksburg, up 0.88 of a foot in 24 hours. Flood stage at Vicksburg is 43 feet.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission is expected to announce this week whether Vicksburg casinos will be forced to close because of the flood. Access to parking and amenities will be a factor, the commission said last week.

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Normal business continued at LeTourneau Technologies, though a wary eye was on water already filling farmland along LeTourneau Road. Contingencies are being put together to ferry in employees by boat if Warren County closes the lone access road to the riverside yard, general manager Bo-D Massey said.

A strategy session is planned Wednesday in Vicksburg among officials of industries at the Port of Vicksburg. Discussions are expected to involve availability of disaster recovery grants.

On Saturday, Vicksburg Sewer Department used crossties sealed with roofing cement to close openings on the city’s floodwall across from the Art Park at Catfish Row.

Vicksburg officials planned to team with AmeriCorps volunteers to take information from residents in Kings, Ford and Waltersville neighborhoods and south of town in low-lying areas.

Mississippi 465 was expected to close to the general public today. The mainline Mississippi River levee will be closed to traffic when the stage at Greenville reaches 55 feet. It was up a foot this morning, to 53.07.

Gates are open on the Muddy Bayou Control Structure to fill Eagle Lake to 90 feet from its ideal level of 76.9 feet. The move is geared to ease pressure on the Buck Chute levee while a berm to enclose sand boils is built below. The lake’s stage was 79.1 feet this morning, also up a foot.

Whether U.S. 61 is closed during this spring’s second high water event is undetermined, officials said. If closed, access to Eagle Lake would be from the north exclusively, through Rolling Fork and Satartia, via Mississippi 3 and Russellville Road, which becomes Oak Ridge Road in northwest Warren County.

At Steele Bayou, the land side water level was at 88.85 feet and the river side was at 93.22 feet this morning. The gates will remain closed until the river side stage is lower than the level in the 4,093-square-mile Yazoo Backwater Area. A 103-foot crest is expected on the river side around May 18. The land side crest is expected to reach 93. feet by June 10.