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Floodwaters rising on Mississippi River

 

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi River is once again on the rise and local emergency officials are paying attention.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said he is closely monitoring the situation. At this point only low-lying areas in the county are being affected by the high water, Bradford said.

The river has been hovering above flood stage since Jan. 4 — at one point rising to nearly 52 feet on Jan. 20. Flood stage at the Natchez river gauge is at 48 feet.

Since Jan. 20, the river has slowly decreased to just above flood stage, but has started to rise again. Current forecasts by the National Weather Service predict the river to rise to 54.5 feet on March 9.

“This has become an annual occurrence,” Bradford said. “We pretty much know which areas are being affected.”

Areas affected by the high water, include Carthage Point Road, areas around the Natchez Port and properties near Anna’s Bottom in the northern part of the county.

In previous years, Silver Street and D.A. Biglane Street at Natchez Under-the-Hill has been partially closed when the river reached 52.5 feet.

Bradford said state officials do not believe the rainfall predicted for this week will drastically impact current river-level forecasts.

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said town officials are also monitoring the situations.

“We are looking at it on a daily basis with the water as high as it has been this year,” Craft said.

The town’s highest priorities during flooding, Craft said, are to protect residences from seepage water and to protect streets and properties from developing sink holes.

“Of course we plan on protecting the riverfront,” Craft said. “The businesses on the riverfront are important to us.”

At the current forecast, Craft said he doesn’t believe the flood will rise to a point to require the installation of the HESCO baskets that were put in place in 2011. The baskets were used to form temporary levees around each building on the Vidalia Riverfront, which is on the river side of the protective permanent levee.

The highest flood on record in Natchez occurred on May 19, 2011,cresting at 61.95 feet.

Craft said the town will continue to watch the river forecast and be proactive if the crest is revised to a higher level.

“We like to be on offense,” Craft said.

Bradford said area flooding is classified as “moderate flooding.” Flood levels above 57 feet are classified as “major flooding,” Bradford said and would require additional monitoring by the local and state officials. At that level, Craft said the Town of Vidalia would likely seek disaster relief funds.

Three of the top five floods in Natchez have occurred in the past 11 years. Along with the flood of 2011, the river crested at 57.12 feet in 2018, 57.03 feet in 2008 and 56.75 feet in 2016.

If the Mississippi River reaches 54. 5 feet as predicted, the level would match the 14th highest flood on record in  Natchez. The river crested at that same level on June 5, 1929.

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