City closing Levee Street as water rises

Published 6:33 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018

City public works crews will begin closing off Levee Street Monday in anticipation of the Mississippi River cresting at 50.5 feet March 17.

“We’re going to start closing it Monday morning,” public works director Garnet Van Norman said.

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“We’ll close it early to have time to get it up and not have to work 12-13 hours a day, then we’re going to watch and see what it (the Mississippi) does, because when it gets to 52 feet we’ve got to close the railroad. So we’re a foot-and-a-half from closing everything.”

Van Norman said there may still be some uncertainty about how much more rain in the upper Mississippi River Basin will affect the river, “So we’re going to err on the side of caution. It’s almost to the point where we’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. “

He said preparations are also being made to acquire an AquaDam, a bladder-like system that is filled with water and acts like a dam to block water, to protect the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot.

“We’re just prepared for the worst in case we need it. You’d better be prepared than not do anything,” Van Norman said.

As of Saturday, the crest was still forecast at 50.5 feet for Vicksburg, and the Mississippi Basin may be catching a break, at least for the coming week.

“We have a system coming across the (Mississippi) Valley between Monday and Tuesday of next week, and it looks like it’s not going to dump enough to have any impact unless things change,” said National Weather Service hydrologist Marty Pope.

He said a second system will follow the next week on March 11, “So we’ll just have to keep an eye on that. All of that’s before the official crests occur downstream.”

He said the Mississippi River at Cairo will be cresting by the time the second system goes through.

“Once you turn it around, it’s harder to cause that to go back up again, but that still leaves us vulnerable to water out of the Arkansas River, at least until the mid part of the month,” Pope said.

“The good news is really no heavy rainfall is expected across the valley at least until at least the 10th or the 11th.

“That’s the best news we’ve had for while.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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