Mississippi River to crest today, but little effect expected

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Only the lowest-lying fishing camps, roads and farmland will be affected when the Mississippi River crests today, said those who track river levels.

After rising steadily for several days, the river is expected to crest at 48.9 feet today, almost a foot above flood stage, before falling to 48.8 feet Friday and 48.6 feet Saturday.

&uot;This the highest the river’s been since last year,&uot; said Jerry McDonald of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vidalia office. &uot;All the storms we’ve had in the Ohio Valley are what’s doing this.&uot;

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For Adams County to be affected, the river would have to reach 51 or 52 feet, high enough for tributaries like St. Catherine Creek to back up significantly, said county Civil Defense Director George Souderes.

Low-lying roads like Carthage Point Road &045; which is closed due to flooding &045; and Lake Thornburg Road have already seen some water backup, said county Road Manager Bobby Powell.

But few people live on those roads and in other low-lying areas like Anna’s Bottom, Souderes pointed out.

&uot;We’re not looking for rain until this weekend, and nothing really drastic,&uot; Souderes said. &uot;So if the river continues to fall and there aren’t any big rains above us (in the upper Mississippi Valley), we should be in good shape.&uot;

As far as the riverfront is concerned, the river would have to reach 51 feet to make its way onto Silver Street, Souderes said.

But what about the area at the foot of Roth Hill, which city officials are trying to market to casinos or land-based developments?

The river has to reach 55 feet to encroach on Roth Hill land, and it has only done that five times since the late 1920s &045; most recently in 1997, when the river reached 56.3 feet, said City Engineer David Gardner.

But under city ordinances, facilities built at the foot of Roth Hill must be built up six feet above ground anyway, since the area is located in a 100-year flood plain.

&uot;That puts people at ease when I tell them that,&uot; Gardner said, referring to prospective developers. &uot;I’m not saying (water) will never get on there, but the possibility is remote if they build according to our ordinances.&uot;

In Concordia Parish, McDonald said, &uot;we’re not in any danger, although there may be some camps around Minorca and Deer Park where (road) access is cut off.&uot;

With the parish’s levee system, the river would have to be four to five feet above current levels for a longer period of time to impact Concordia Parish, said parish Civil Defense Director Morris White.