It was a story that gained momentum last year as entire communities were immersed under water with the Yazoo Backwater Flood.
As the waters receded, coverage tended to dwindle down as communities were left to rebuild yet return in what was left of their homes.
But Yazoo never forgot the story. And it’s a story that many are bracing for again as the rainfall continues and the water begins to creep closer.
The Yazoo Backwater is currently at 95.5’ which has 454,000 total acres underwater in the South Delta, including 171,000 acres of cropland. As of press time, the backwater is predicted to crest between 95.5’ and 96’. At 96’ there will be 470,000 total acres flooded including 183,000 acres of cropland.
But where would the area be if the Yazoo Backwater Pumps were in place?
Instead of cresting at 93.3’ on Feb. 2, the pumps would have lowered the crest by 5.3’ down to 88’. Instead of 380,000 acres flooded, the pumps would have prevented 154,000 acres from flooding lowering the total land flooded to 226,000 acres.
A campaign that has been instrumental in spreading the need, awareness and support for the Yazoo Backwater Pumps is Finish the Pumps. And many of the advocates behind the campaign are from Yazoo.
Clay Adcock, a Holly Bluff farmer and a vocal supporter of the pumps, has continued to push for the station. A farmer, not only is his business affected by the backwater flooding but his quality of life is as well. His family is rooted in the soils of the area, with a rich history and love for the community.
Adcock, and others, appeared before the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council in Florida this week, providing testimony and information on the situation within the South Delta.
“I was supposed to talk for seven minutes,” Adcock said. “There were so many questions, I stayed up there for an hour.”
The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) is a federal advisory committee to the Environmental Protection Agency, which vetoed the Yazoo Backwater Project in 2008.
“NEJAC is supposed to be the sounding board for minorities, indigenous people or lesser represented people who may be harmed by environmental policy,” Adcock said. “They give recommendations to the EPA. The EPA doesn’t have to do what NEJAC says, but NEJAC does carry a big stick.”
Adcock said he shared testimonies, photographs, letters of support and documentation from state lawmakers showing the need and support of the pumps.
“It seemed as if none of them knew what I was talking about, which was disappointing,” Adcock said. “But the meeting went well after questions and discussions. I explained how this is killing us. Other places are prospering, and we’re not.”
Adcock said he is optimistic with how the meeting went, adding that he was told a resolution would be given to the EPA to relook at the 2008 veto.
“It was all tremendously positive,” he said. “I know they will have to proceed with a lot of caution, but it went well. I think yesterday was the biggest advancement for the pumps.”
Back home in Holly Bluff, Adcock said he is debating on whether to construct his levee back up around some of his property. He admits he is in a terrible position with uncertainty as to what the near future holds.
“We are a moving target with our backs against the wall,” he said. “I am trying to be optimistic, but you don’t want what happened last year to happen again. We are halfway there, but maybe it won’t be as bad.”