Evacuations have been ongoing for several weeks at Eagle Lake. With the lake rising nine inches overnight the rate of evacuations are accelerating. Eagle Lake Shore Road has gone under in a couple of places. There is an expectation that one inch of rain Eagle Lake received overnight will cause even more damage to land and homes.
Since the Great Flood of 1927, the US government has worked to create a plan to reduce flooding along the Mississippi River. That plan included creating a system of levees, channels and control structures to move the water to Steele Bayou. When the Steele Bayou control structure was built in 1969 the plan was to place very large pumps to move the water out of there and into the Yazoo River.
The pumps were never built. Since 1969 flooding in the planned flood area has occurred on a regular basis. That includes the flood of record in 1973, the flood of 1979, numerous others and now the Great Backwater Flood of 2019.
Delay after delay and the federal bureaucracy caused the pumps to never be installed. The EPA, in 2008, issued a veto of the pump project based on seemingly spurious conclusions. Since 2008 the fight to install the pumps has been moved to the courts and Congress. With the Great Backwater Flood of 2019, the fight has also been moved to the court of public opinion.
On the side of installing the pumps are almost everyone in the South Delta and those who have read up on it. Opposed are wealthy landowners like one of Tate Reeves campaign finance champions, Billy Van Devender.
The flood waters have been on the ground for the longest period of time since the Great Flood of 1927. Eagle Lake is at historically high levels and rising. The South Delta now has 540,000 plus acres of land underwater. That includes almost 224,000 acres of farmland.
The Mississippi River is projected to crest at 49.8 feet on the 20th of May and hold there for a week or so. That projection does not include the rains today or any other future rains, just water that is currently on the ground. Once the water level drops in the Mississippi River it will have a trickle effect upstream. The Yazoo river will drop and the Steele Bayou control structure gates can be opened to allow the slow drain of the Backwater.
The flood waters will most likely remain well into June and maybe even July. Quipped Eagle Lake Resident Rita Foster ‘We have the lake for a yard.”See a typo? Report it here.