Time to review flood strategy

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sometimes what we do not see can be just as significant as what we do see.

Old Man River may not be busting through levees and flooding neighborhoods in the Miss-Lou, but the high waters are causing significant problems nonetheless.

Images of towns surrounded by floodwaters along the northern half of Mississippi River are heartbreaking. They have done little to soothe the fears of residents who remember 2011 when the river swamped the Vidalia riverfront.

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The Town of Vidalia, with the help of the State of Louisiana and others, spent significant time money and effort to build manmade levees around the city convention center, medical facilities and local businesses up and down the riverfront.

The current forecast suggests Vidalia and Natchez may have dodged that bullet this year.

Even still the Mississippi River has been above flood stage for 138 days and looks like it may stay high into the latter part of June.

That is not good news for leaders on both sides of the river.

The long string of days above flood stage is a record for Natchez and continues to put area infrastructure under constant, significant stress.

Seepage water and ground saturation levels are creating sinkholes and other problems for the low-lying areas in Vidalia. Sudden downpours are creating flash flooding problems. 

Four of the Top 5 river crests at Natchez have occurred in the last decade. This year’s flooding has been particularly devastating for the entire river system.

Experts suggest we should logically expect to see higher river levels with greater frequency in the future.

It’s imperative that a review of the nation’s strategy for the Mississippi River be conducted and a new plan implemented to protect all of the communities on the river.

Every flood fight is a reminder of the high costs of ignoring the problem. We have been warned.