Flooding from a swollen Mississippi River has flooded farms, fields and towns in the Mississippi Delta, forcing dozens of people from their homes as a wave of water pushes south. The rising river and heavy spring rain have fueled debate about the future of the river, which opponents believed had sunk more than a decade ago. Southern states are bracing themselves for a slow-moving wall of water that will sweep through cities from Illinois to Louisiana, causing more flooding than in a century.
The Mississippi, lined with levees to keep the water at bay, flows into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest freshwater sources in the world. The rain that swelled the Mississippi River also caused water to rise and flooded parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.
While the Mississippi floods set records in duration and total volume in 2019, only a few spots along the Mississippi had record flooding. The Mississippi River in nearby Vicksburg, which has remained at flood stage for more than 114 days in a row, can cause massive flooding, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. At the time of the flooding, the Missouri River in Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital, was at or near flood level for the first time in its history, and the Arkansas River, a major water source for Mississippi and Alabama, is also in flood stage and about to flood.
The Yazoo River runs through the southeast edge of the delta, and the most extreme flooding occurs along the stream that winds from the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and then into the Atlantic.
The Yazoo Dam prevents backwater from entering the South Delta, and the sewage structures are closed to prevent backfilling of the Mississippi. When the Mississippi and Yazoo River stages reach the highest levels in the inner basin, the gate is closed to prevent the flood waters from receding into the North Delta and flooding the South Delta. The gates of the Steele Bayou structure are also closed when the Mississippi River floods, preventing it from retreating and flooding the southern delta with flooding from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. This drainage structure was closed during the 2010 and 2012 floods to prevent the back watercourses from flowing into and over the Mississippi basin.
When the Mississippi is low enough, the Army Corps will build and open gates to drain and reopen the tubs as water flows back into the South Delta from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. When the Missoula River reaches its highest level, when it is low enough and water flows through the gates of the Steele Bayou structure into the Yazoo Dam, the Army Corps will install another gate.
When the Mississippi is higher than the Yazoo, the flood gates are closed to prevent it from entering nearby farmland. Much of the flooding occurs in the area around the river, but also in its levee system, which also stretches from Memphis to Vicksburg. In order to reduce the flood risk from the Mississippi and its tributaries, a number of approved measures, such as flood walls, levees and flood protection systems, have been completed in recent years to reduce flood risks along the Mississippi.
The late Senator John McCain, who once called the project "the worst project ever designed by Congress," called for the construction of a giant pump at the confluence of the Yazoo and Mississippi and Mississippi rivers. Riley argues that the amount of water that would have drained the pump from the Mississippi into the Yasoo River was nothing compared to what was already flowing down the Big Muddy.
While the project may have helped a handful of landowners in the backwater, it has also caused flooding elsewhere along the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers, flooding other areas of the state as well as parts of Mississippi and Alabama. At the same time, the Mississippi delegation recognized that the measure would lead to flooding not only in Mississippi, but also in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. MS will see a significant amount of water pumped into the Yasoo River within days of flooding. The rains have swelled the Mississippi and its levees, including the Yazoo Backwater Levee, which could lead to renewed flooding in some areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes region.
The pump was once called "one of the worst projects ever designed by Congress," and opponents say it has pushed water into the delta's south. The pump was once called "the best project" Congress has ever devised. Opponents say the water has been pushed south toward the delta. There is considerable opposition to the pump, which is said to have pushed water westward towards the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi.
Robert Hilliard has written and reiterated his opposition to the pump, which he believes has affected the livelihoods of thousands of Mississippi Delta residents, many of whom have been damaged by repeated backlogs over the past decade that damaged their homes and businesses.