Every year, the Mississippi Wildlife Federation puts on an Extravaganza, as they call it, to help fund its efforts in the state. It is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. This year that big fundraiser is being targeted by victims of the Great Backwater Flood of 2019.
The heart of the issue is that the MWF is in opposition to completing the pumping station at Steele Bayou. The federation’s official position, along with numerous other ecological organizations, is that those pumps would harm 200,000 acres of wetlands that foster the preservation of treasured hunting grounds. As recently as March 2018, the MWF was touting their victory over the latest attempt to install the pumps.
A year later, that position is not sitting well with the victims of the Great Backwater Flood.
Most flood victims feel the pumps would have lessened the impact of this historic flood while having a positive impact on the wetlands. Many agree with Holly Bluffs farmer Clay Adcock, who stated to Vicksburg Daily News that the “…wetlands are being negatively impacted by recurrent backwater flooding events created by the absence of the pumps.”
On the Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s Facebook page , flood victim Michael Walter commented about the annual fundraiser. “I used to go with my family and friends and support this every year, but this year is different,” he wrote. “After finding out your organization had a hand in what has happened to the south Mississippi delta, I will no longer support your or any group associated with your group. If you think that vetoing the pumps that would have prevented this was a good idea, then take the drive (that) me and what’s left of my community have to take every day, and see the thousands of wildlife displaced, stressed, starving and dead in this historic flood going on 5 months now with no end in sight!”
Walter seems to have captured the mood of South Delta residents who are posting on the MWF page.
The historic flood has stretched on for several months–the longest period of flooding since 1927–and has displaced humans and wildlife, while impacting homes, farms and businesses in the South Delta. Local media publish seemingly endless reports of stressed animals, animals killed by vehicles and painful pictures of starving wildlife as a result of the flood.
Flood victims have organized and worked for months to draw attention to their plight. They are working to protect their South Delta homes and business by getting the pumps completed. Victims are empowered, and the effort has pushed many into action. The rallying cry of “Finish the Pumps” can be seen everywhere: on billboards and buildings, on vehicles and as a hashtag on social media. The effort seems to be working. National media is finally giving some attention to the flood event, its causes and how it could have been prevented.
The Mississippi Wildlife Federation is now clearly in the cross hairs of the effort. Whether it will have an impact on this year’s MWF fundraiser remains to be seen.
The flooding has scarred many South Delta residents. Rhonda McClure summed it up in a social media post.
“There is dead wildlife everywhere, and the wildlife that has survived is starving,” she wrote.”There needs to be a solution put into place to prevent this in the future.”
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