Experience makes a difference
Four feet. That’s approximately the difference in the expected level of the Mississippi River in Natchez when it crests this week compared to the record set in 2011.
Much has changed in the mindset of our community since 2011 as well. Perhaps it’s just the knowledge that we’ve lived through worse that has made this year’s flood far less panicky.
In 2011 as the river began to rise and experts kept changing the expected crest level every few days, a sense of panic set in as questions lingered.
What would happen if the levee failed?
Could large swaths of the riverbank just be washed away, undermined by the power of the river?
The question led to panic and fear. Fortunately, people like former Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell and former Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland were reassuring in the flood fight.
But one thing is for sure; the frequency with which the river is flooding at seemingly greater and greater heights appears to be on the rise.
With the current river level already at more than 57.65 feet on the Natchez gauge, the record book will now show that in the top six highest flood levels in Natchez ever recorded, five of them will have occurred in the last 11 years.
This year, 4 feet is expected to separate a near-record level from the record level, but no doubt the Mighty Mississippi will continue to keep testing our nerve and resolve in the days, months and years to come.