Eagle Lake residents hear from officials about flood issue; gates may open soon

Published 8:31 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Residents in the Yazoo backwater area can expect to see the backwater flooding to possibly reach a level of 97.4 feet, according to projections from engineers at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District.

“We have not had a lot of rain here lately; that’s helping,” Drew Smith, water control chief for the District, told a meeting of local and state officials and Eagle Lake residents.

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The meeting was called to update residents on the flooding and answer questions about possible problems.

Presently, the backwater is at 97 feet and Mississippi 465 at Mississippi 1 is closed.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has set up a location at the Vicksburg Mall to assist those affected by the flooding to sign up for temporary housing assistance.

MEMA officials will be next to Rainbow in the mall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. beginning each weekday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends.

“We anticipate a very slow rise, somewhere around a half of a tenth of a foot a day. We’re looking at getting the (Steele Bayou) gates open somewhere about April 1, April 3,” Smith said. “But in the meantime, the backwater, we believe, is going to keep creeping up and could creep up to about 97.4.”

That means, he said, residents will see more overtopping of Eagle Lake Shore Road.

“That’s going to mean more water going into the lake,” he said. “That road is so flat in most areas, you’re going to catch a little bit more ride, and that’s going to be more flow going into the lake.”

It means the lake could possibly reach a level of 93 feet, Smith added. “As more thousands of feet of road go underwater, that lake is going to start filling mighty fast.”

Smith cautioned that the forecast could change should the area receive any rain between Friday and the end of the month, adding additional rain could possibly cause a rise in the backwater overtopping Mississippi 465 and Shell Beach Road in Eagle Lake.

“There could be enough water in the lake through overtopping streets and through culverts, and overtopping the (Muddy Bayou) structure that the lake could equal the backwater,” he said. “That lake can fill up with all the water pouring in without us opening the Muddy Bayou Structure.

“We don’t see this as likely happening, but it could happen.”

He said the Muddy Bayou Structure could be opened if the water poses a threat to the integrity of the structure or a change in the forecast, raising the lake level.

Smith set out a timetable for the area to get flood relief based on the present weather and river forecasts:

• April 1-3: The Steele Bayou gates open.

• April 5-6: Water gets off Mississippi 465 at Shell Beach Road.

• April 6-7: Water leaves Mississippi 465 and Mississippi 1.

• April 6-8: Water is off Eagle Lake Shore Road and Muddy Bayou Structure.

• April 13-14: Water is off Mississippi 465 at the Eagle Lake Gin.

• April 13-14: Water is off Mississippi 465 at U.S. 61 North.

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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