Autumn river levels reach abnormal height

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2009

VIDALIA — Life between the levees has been decidedly wet this year.

“We’ve had water here for four-and-a-half months this year,” Deer Park resident Carlton Greer said.

What makes that odd is that one of those months has been in the fall, a time when the Mississippi River is typically much lower.

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“We don’t (normally) have anything like this in the fall,” Greer said. “This is spring water, we just got it in the fall.”

Deer Park — and Minorca in the northern end of Concordia Parish — is located between the old and new levee systems, and when the river rises the two areas fill up like gigantic bowls.

“We have got four families living in the backwater, and they come and go by boat,” Greer said.

The unusual autumn rise was caused by atypically heavy rains in the early fall. The historic normal stage for the river on today’s date is approximately 16.6 feet, whereas today it is expected to stand at 46.5 feet, a foot-and-a-half below flood stage.

The river is falling, though, and by Monday the National Weather Service predicts it will have dropped to 43.9 feet.

The low Concordia areas flood at approximately 41 feet.

In Adams County much of low-lying areas that take on water — the Carthage Point Road area and Anna’s Bottom — are largely used for farming.

To the south in Wilkinson County, however, the community of Fort Adams also has their second floodwaters of the year.

The water had crossed the road in front of resident Ollie Comeaux’s house at one point, but it has since fallen back, and she said the rise hasn’t been as hard as this year’s spring flood, which pushed water up into her front yard.

“Thank the dear Lord we didn’t have to fish off the porch,” she said.

While the high water wasn’t expected, Comeaux said it isn’t ultimately stopping her from doing what she needs to do.

“We are dealing with it fine,” she said. “We can get in and out with the truck.

“The people down below us — the hunting clubs — they are who are really hurting. They have got their land leased, and they weren’t able to plant, and some of them won’t even be able to hunt.”

Living with high water is just part of the way of life for those in low-lying areas, Greer said.

“It takes a special breed,” he said. “You just have to set everything to the backwater levels.”

That means people in Deer Park have to move their campers to higher ground, Minorca residents have to park on the levee and Fort Adams residents watch hunters boating into land they can’t hunt.

Meanwhile, they wait.

“We hope to get the water out of here before the spring rise,” Greer said. “Otherwise, it will be a mess.”

When the river fell below 47 feet Wednesday, it started receding from the Carthage Point area and the former Belwood golf course, and at 45 feet — a level it is expected to fall below between Thursday and Friday — the river will start to exit from under the buildings it has encroached upon in Fort Adams.

When it falls below 43 feet, the river will start to recede from Lake Thornburg Road and Anna’s Bottom in Adams County, as well as Lake Mary Road in Wilkinson County.