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Mississippi Nears Crest in Historic Vicksburg, Natchez

May 18, 2011 Comments off

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Floodwaters from the Mississippi River have closed Highway 61 north of Natchez, Miss., on Tuesday. Photo: AP.

Floodwaters from the Mississippi River have closed Highway 61 north of Natchez, Miss., on Tuesday. Photo: AP.

May 18 (Bloomberg) — The engorged Mississippi River is cresting in the state that bears its name, rising to major flood stage and above in towns famous for Civil War battles, riverboat landings and antebellum homes.

The river left standing its 1927 record in Greenville, Mississippi, when it crested there yesterday at 64.2 feet, below the 65.4-foot mark that helped lead to the creation of the U.S. Flood Control Act of 1928 for river management.

A crest of 57.5 feet, more than a foot above the 1927 high, is expected tomorrow at Vicksburg, while downstream at Natchez the river is forecast to top out May 21 at 63 feet, 5 feet above a 1937 record.

“We have the levee there and we’re praying it holds,” said Beth Hite, 53, bartender at Natchez’s Under-the-Hill Saloon, which bills itself as a place where thieves and gamblers roamed in the days when the town was a major riverboat stop. “We have been sandbagging and now they are building those artificial levees.”

Farther down the river, in Louisiana, 15 gates are open on the Morganza spillway, diverting the Mississippi’s excess into the Atchafalaya River basin. The opening of the spillway for the first time since 1973 eased the threat of flooding for Baton Rouge, New Orleans and a major petrochemical zone while sending the water into Cajun country.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said yesterday that the Read more…