Bryant calls on Trump to declare a major disaster in Delta counties
Published 9:26 pm Monday, July 22, 2019
As the historic and devastating flooding in the Mississippi Delta nears its sixth month, and with water levels inching slowly lower, economic and governmental leaders have started to turn their focus to the eventual recovery.
In a letter to President Trump Monday, Gov. Phil Bryant requested the president make a major disaster declaration for Mississippi counties significantly impacted by the flood. Those counties covered in the governor’s request are Sharkey, Issaquena, Humphreys, Yazoo and Warren counties.
“The unprecedented flooding event began in February of this year and has continued until the present day due to further severe weather events including Hurricane Barry,” Bryant wrote. “Over 500,000 acres have been flooded in the Mississippi Delta this year. The persistent flooding has had and will continue to to have a catastrophic impact on the housing and economic conditions in these counties, and the Major Disaster Declaration will assist with recovery efforts.”
Warren County Board of Supervisors President Richard George said the disaster declaration would be crucial to the county recovering some of the money that will be spent — and already spent — on battling the flood and recovering from its impact.
“We’ve done all that we can to encourage a declaration to be made. That’s what we’re hoping for, a federal declaration,” George said. “Anything that they will do is going to be a help, because the biggest problem we have is the unknown amount of damage.”
George said the issue know is the inability by the county to even assess the damage to the county’s infrastructure.
“The water has not receded enough to determine the damage. That’s a real problem, obviously, when you’re talking about damage assessment and asking for relief,” George said. “It would actually help if you knew more about what you’re faced with, but at the same time, while that is occurring it’s you’re best time to get a declaration. So we’re going to do the best we can.”
In addition to the homes and other structures damaged or destroyed by the flood, Bryant highlighted the significant losses in agriculture and the impact that it has on the Delta and the state.
“The economic damage to the region, particularly the damage to the agriculture industry and the thousands of agricultural workers, has been significant,” Bryant wrote. “The flood has destroyed 50 percent of the corn yield, 40 percent of the cotton yield, and 30 percent of the soybean yield. Nearly 120,000 acres of farmland has been saturated and damaged to a degree that will make it impossible to grow crops this year.”
Bryant projected the agriculture losses alone would top $800 million. He also added that it could still be two to three months for the flood waters to fully recede.
“To say that the persistent flooding in these five Mississippi Delta counties has had a devastating impact on the lives of many Mississippians would be a gross understatement,” he wrote. “Such a declaration will facilitate the recovery efforts in these five counties and help to ease the personal and economic suffering that has resulted from the unprecedented flooding in the Lower Mississippi Delta.”