Flood precautions underway with river on the rise

Published 7:32 pm Thursday, February 21, 2019

City street department workers Thursday began installing the timbers to shut off the China Street gate to the Mississippi River waterfront as city officials began taking steps to prepare for a 50-foot crest.

The present National Weather Service forecast the Mississippi cresting at 50 feet at Vicksburg March 8. The river was at 44.8 feet Thursday and is expected to be at 46 feet Saturday.

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Forecasters Feb. 12 had the Mississippi cresting at 48 feet on March 3, but high rain totals over the weekend added more rain to the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

Marty Pope, hydrologist with the National Weather Service Office in Jackson said rainfall that was predicted to fall southeast of the Mississippi Valley moved back west, dumping rain in the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee River valleys.

The rains forced officials at the Barkley and Kentucky dams to cut back on discharges, filling up the Tennessee River and that combined with water coming from the Ohio River.

Over the past seven days, he said, 3-4 inches fell across the Cumberland and Ohio River valleys and about 4-6 inches over the Tennessee River Valley.

Pope said forecasts call for about 1 inch of rain in the Ohio River Valley and 2-4 inches in the Cumberland River Valley and then 3-5 inches in the Tennessee Valley.

“Some of that is going in the Arkansas Valley as well,” he said. “That’s what’s bringing it up.”

He said another system is expected to move through the Mississippi Valley this weekend bringing a cold front. “I think it’s going to clear most of the area out,” he said, adding a weak system will pass through March 2.

“Right now, unless something drastically happens and we get a lot more rain than we’re anticipating, it should remain steady,” he said.

City preparations

At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, public works director Garnet Van Norman said the city would install the gates on the floodwall at the China and Clay Street openings. Levee Street will not be closed until the river reaches 49 feet.

Police Chief Milton Moore said officers would block roads in Kings once the river stage hits 44 feet. 

At 44 feet, Ford Subdivision and the Kings community will begin to get water at Pittman Road and Mary’s Alley. At 44.6 feet, residences in Williams Street will begin to flood, and 45 feet, Ford and Kings will begin to flood at Williams Street.

Eagle Lake meeting

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said a meeting has been called for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Eagle Lake Fire Station for Eagle Lake residents and property owners. Pace and officials with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District and Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks will discuss the situation with the river and the status of Mississippi 465, the main route to Eagle Lake.

Kevin Magee, MDOT Central District engineer, said officials are watching the river, “And we’ll close 465 when the river makes us close it.”

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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