We cannot afford to let another flood go ‘forgotten’

Published 3:13 pm Thursday, February 27, 2020

The news we follow, the information we seek and the items that appear on our social media news feeds are quite different than they were just over a year ago.

Up until last January or so, who would have made checking updated river stage information from the U.S. Corps of Engineers the first thing they do when they woke up? Up until last January, would we have made checking the cresting information for the Yazoo Backwater a crucial part of the day?

Then again, up until last January, most of us were oblivious to what was about to happen, the scale of the pending devastation and the reminder that when government sticks its good ideas and best intentions into anything, few things go right.

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In what has become the norm, we checked the latest update from the Mississippi Levee Board and were again reminded that what we had hoped and prayed was a generational disaster in 2019 is creeping ever closer to happening again in 2020.

In a report earlier this week, the Yazoo Backwater is expected to crest between 95.5 feet and 96 feet.

As of Thursday afternoon, the backwater sits just shy of 96 feet; a figure that would place nearly 470,000 acres under water including more than 180,000 acres of cropland.

Roads have been closed, with others threatened by floodwaters. Farmers are again watching as their livelihoods are put at risk, with real questions being asked if continuing work that for many has been part of multiple generations is even worth the effort.

And yet, even with 2019 so fresh on the minds of so many, how in the world is this developing once again?

How in the world is the country — the state for that matter — not paying much closer attention to what is taking place.

Yes, we have seen movement by the federal government in securing funds for some of the fundamental work for the completion of the backwater pumps project, but even if the green light was given to complete that project today, it would still need millions of dollars in appropriations and years to complete.

Even Congressman Bennie Thompson, a once lukewarm supporter of the pumps project at best, has come around to the need for the project to be completed.

“This issue is not only impacting the homes and livelihood of constituents when we experience high flood levels, but farmers in Mississippi are heavily impacted as well,” he said. “The big economic blow will fall on farmers in the area. With agriculture being an immense economic source, specifically in my district, it is vital for us to remedy this problem.”

Even if not everyone’s home in this region was flooded, the impact is felt by everyone. Even if not everyone lost an acre of farmland, the impact is felt by everyone.

The damage left on our community from last year’s disaster — and the damage we are again seeing this year — is something everyone needs to pay attention to. We can not go through another “Forgotten Flood.”