River tops abandoned Lake Providence levee

Published 9:46 am Thursday, May 12, 2011

BUNCHE’S BEND, La. (AP) — The Mississippi River has topped a levee north of Lake Providence in extreme northeast Louisiana, flooding croplands as an effort by farmers to shore up the 100-year-old structure was thwarted by the rising river.

About 12,000 acres behind the 18-mile-long levee, mostly planted in corn and soybeans, was flooding Thursday morning though no homes appeared to be in danger in the thinly populated area.

Maintenance on the levee was abandoned years ago after another, higher levee was built farther back off the river. The higher levee is considered part of the mainline river levee that local levee districts and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials have said continue to be functioning well and should hold back the river.

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Area farmers had pooled together and about 40 worked in recent days to stack about 1,800, 1-ton sandbags along the older levee’s weakest points. But the river is cresting higher than originally forecast and it topped the levee overnight.