A view from a window reminds me about the great people I know, live with
Published 9:46 am Wednesday, May 19, 2021
One of the interesting things about working in a building on Washington Street is the view we have from the conference room.
There are times when I take a break from writing, leave my desk and walk to the back where I look out the window past Levee Street, the murals and scan upon the Yazoo Diversion Canal and the Mississippi River beyond. Sometimes I get to see a boat pushing its tow of barges through the canal on the way to the river. Other times, one of the cruise boats is docked at the riverfront or preparing to get underway to another destination.
As I write this column Wednesday, the Mississippi’s level at Vicksburg was 34.2 feet and dropping. Several months ago, it was near 45 feet and threatening to rise.
The river’s level is one thing I watch when I look out of the window. I look to see how far the canal has edged up the banks on the Mississippi side and how far the water has spread west in an attempt to link with the Mississippi.
I remember how high the river was when I came to Vicksburg.
It was mid-May in 2011 when I came to Vicksburg and the Mississippi was on its way to breaking the record set by the Great Flood of 1927. Several weeks later, the Mississippi crested on at 57.1 feet, 14.1 feet above flood stage and nine-tenths of a foot above the Great Flood. I remember walking down to Catfish Row and watching a stream of water shoot through a gap in the floodwall.
The 2011 flood was not my first. I covered a flood in 1980 in northern East Baton Rouge Parish but it was nowhere near the extent of the 2011 flood, which affected such a wide area and population. And having gone through Hurricane Katrina and seeing my home on the coast flooded I knew how those people who fled the high water felt.
I’ve since covered several floods in the almost 10 years I’ve been here, including the 2019 flood, which was a record-setter in its own right.
It seems like over the past 15-20 years I’ve been in areas that are close to the water — Pascagoula on the Gulf Coast and Vicksburg on the Mississippi — and in each location I’ve covered disasters that were in some way shaped by the water, whether it was a hurricane or a flood, and I’ve learned something about the people in both areas. They’re resilient; they take whatever punishment Mother Nature dishes out. When the disaster ends, they return from wherever they sheltered during the storm, clean up and start over. Some folks may take longer than others and some may need help, but at the end of the day they do what needs to be done to get back to living their lives usually with help from friends and neighbors.
That says a lot for the people here and on the coast and it makes me glad to know I live with such people.
John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.