Efforts to secure Yazoo backwater pumps continue

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

As the heavy rainfall and flash flooding  continue to hit Yazoo, the backwater area residents are bracing for what they know is coming...more water.

"It's coming," said Jack Willingham, said county emergency management director. "It's just not going to be as instantaneous as what we saw Monday with the flash flooding."

Marty Pope, with the National Weather Service, said the Yazoo backwater area will continue to receive significant rainfall.

"The Steele Bayou gates are open but will most likely close during the late portion of the second week to early in the third week due to a rise coming down the Mississippi River."

As the backwater areas try to return to a normal pace while bracing for what is predicted to be more water, the campaign to construct the backwater pumps continues.

Recently, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson renewed the funding request for the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Project in the new appropriations cycle.

“This project is of critical importance for the second congressional district of Mississippi,” Thompson said. "These issues of flooding have persisted over the years and have worsened as evidenced by the aftermath of a severe tornado storm last year. There continues to be flooding along the lower Mississippi River and the backwater area spanning over the last 10 years."

In 2019, the State of Mississippi endured record high flooding levels leaving over 500,000 acres of land under water for months. Between 2008-2018, approximately $377 million in damages occurred because of the continued flooding. The number has exponentially grown since last year’s critical flooding issues throughout the state.

“This issue is not only impacting the homes and livelihood of constituents when we experience high flood levels, but farmers in Mississippi are heavily impacted as well,” continued Thompson. “The big economic blow will fall on farmers in the area. With agriculture being an immense economic source, specifically in my district, it is vital for us to remedy this problem.”

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith also recently  announced an additional $46.5 million in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding will be allocated for work on 27 projects in Mississippi, including $7.5 million to advance efforts to address Yazoo Backwater Area flooding.

“Congress gives the Army Corps the discretion to allocate funding to projects that are underfunded but would have a near-term positive impact on public health and safety," she said. "This is the case for the projects in Mississippi getting additional funding."

“I am particularly pleased the Army Corps is dedicating funding to the Yazoo Backwater Area, which signals it understands the critical situation in the South Delta,” she added.