State officials are anticipating a slow but steady drop in the water levels that have devastated the Delta region and its citizens, who have battled the backwater flooding since February.
And while the word spreads that the waters are slowly beginning to recede, life is nowhere near normal for the rural communities that have struggled to maintain their way of life.
“This has never happened exactly the way it is happening this time,” said Kevin Magee, engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation. “We are learning as we go. We’ve seen a lot of Mississippi River flooding. But we have not seen a lot of backwater flooding.”
Portions of Yazoo County and neighboring communities have been underwater for several months. Record rainfall and an unpredictable spring season has literally consumed these communities with water as records indicate over 500,000 acres of land and more than 500 homes affected within the Delta. Those same figures state that 225,000 acres of farmland have also been affected by the flooding.
In communities that heavily depend on agriculture, the battle against Mother Nature has been a frustrating and difficult one to endure.
Local residents have called it “the forgotten flood.” Those same residents affected by the backwater flooding have also launched a heavy campaign to cut the red tape associated with the unfinished Yazoo Backwater Pumps.
The project was halted due to the environmental advocate argument that the pumps would drain vital wetland and damage wildlife habitats in the area.
It is an argument that has endured for eight decades.
“The water is finally going down, so we are starting to get into clean-up mode,” Magee said. “We have got to go in and inspect all of these structures. One of the dangers is that either when the water is coming up or going down, it can blow up some of the pipe culverts we have under the road.”
Magee warns that although the waters may begin to recede, do not attempt normal travel on roads that are slowly beginning to reemerge.
“It can look like there’s asphalt there, but there could be nothing underneath,” Magee said.
MDOT reminds motorists not to drive around barricades or try to pass flooded roadways as the road may be washed away. When encountering a flooded roadway—turn around, don’t drown. As the water recedes, MDOT must clear debris and inspect roads for damage before they can be reopened.