Friday, April 29, 2011

Mississippi's and Louisiana's governors announced flood warnings said on Thursday and declared states of emergency. The authorities along the river in both states are warning residents to brace for the possibility of floods and thunderstorms that caused widespread damage in several southern U.S. states in recent days.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency expects the river to reach its flood stage this weekend and continue to rise over the coming two weeks. River boat casinos in Mississippi are closed and levee managers are readying sand bags to fight the rising river along hundreds of levees in both states where the river crosses en route to the Gulf of Mexico. Barbour said during a news conference that this is one disaster we can prepare for ahead of time.

The floods would be the most recent natural disaster to hit the U.S. Southeast, already they are affected by tornadoes and violent storms that killed more than 280 people this week, including at least 32 in Mississippi. The Mississippi River is predicted to rise almost 3 feet higher than it did during severe flooding in 2008, when local levees failed after months of rain and many homes were ruined by water damage.

The river is forecast to hit the highest point at 53.5 feet on May 18 at Vicksburg. That is the uppermost river stage recorded at Vicksburg since the catastrophic flooding of 1927 when the river reached 56.6 feet and would have kept on rising if levees hadn't given way, causing enormous flooding and killing hundreds. After that calamity, the nation undertook an aggressive $13 billion plan to build levees and flood ways that would avert such a scale of flooding again. Barbour said residents should review their flood insurance policies with their insurance agents and move important property to safer locations.