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As the Mississippi River continues to rise and more residents are forced to evacuate, the great flood of 1927 is on a lot of Southern minds and questions of what’s next on just as many lips.According to reports in the Nashville Tennessean, history could be on the verge of repeating itself. To give a little perspective: in the Great Flood, the levees broke in 145 places, flooded 27,000 square miles in up to 30 feet of water over a stretch of land 100 miles long. At some points more than double the volume of Niagara Falls poured through as levees broke, nine states were affected and 246 people died.
Though modifications have been done on the levee system over the years, failures are occurring now just as before, and towns that sit upstream have already blasted their levees to keep the flood waters at bay. In Vicksburg Mississippi, where the Yazoo River empties into the Mississippi River, current predictions put the river cresting the barriers by more than a foot. There is real concern the strain will prove too much for the dirt levees.
The best officials there can do is to put polyethylene sheets over the levees in efforts to preserve their integrity.
Civil engineers and Army Corps officers are telling residents to have faith in the levees, but to be vigilant.
There is no such thing as never: It’s not a word when you’re dealing with the river. An old Army Corps of Engineers general said that the best preparation for a war is fighting the river, because it’s always looking for a place to defeat you and it’s 24-7 in its activity,” he said.
Following the 1927 flood, over 2200 miles of additional levees were put in place to protect residents living in the flood zone, but that effort was called into question following Hurricane Katrina. Regardless, the locals trust in the levees is such that a significant portion do not have flood insurance.
The possibility of a levee failure is grinding the Mississippi Delta, located in NW, Miss. where the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers meet, to a halt. People are going about their business, but with their minds and their eyes on the levees.
When a Greenville bar owner was asked what he would do if they fail, he replied:
“I don’t think that levee will break,” said James Shoffner … “If it floods, I’ll try to get all the whiskey out.”
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