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Story Archives: Eyes on the Mississippi; 53 ft. crest expected; reached 56.7 ft. in 1973 flood
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|Eyes on the Mississippi; 53 ft. crest expected; reached 56.7 ft. in 1973 flood|
Local U.S. Corps of Engineer employees are teaming up with Fifth Louisiana Levee District members and the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office in patrolling parish levees as the Mississippi River continues its climb to an predicted crest of 53.0 feet on April 6.
"A lot of work was done on the levees after the flood of 1973," said Tom Matthews, Area Engineer for the U.S. Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District area office in Vidalia. "The gauge needs to reach 56.7 to get on the old mat field, which has now been developed by the City of Vidalia."
Matthews, Civil Engineer Darrell Reid and Joe McFarland, who is in charge of operations maintenance for the Vidalia office, have been monitoring the river the past few weeks.
"The more it rises, the more calls we get," Matthews said. "Right now it is 10 feet above normal, but 10 feet below the highest it has been."
The highest crest on record at Natchez is 58.04 feet in February of 1937.
The second-highest is 56.7 feet on May 13, 1973.
"We've built the riverwalk up since then which serves as a barrier," said Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland. "We're trying to build a small ring levee on the lower end. There are one or two areas that may need a few sandbags, but I think we will be all right. You just can't control what the river will do."
In May of 1927, the river crested at 56.60 feet.
The river crested at 56.30 in 1997.
Flood stage at the Natchez-Vidalia is 48 feet, which is not the actual depth of the river at that stage, Matthews emphasized.
"You add 17.3 feet to the 48 feet to get the elevation at sea level," he said.
Matthews, who said their are contracts out to continue building up the levee, said the lower-lying areas such as Minorca and Deer Park in Concordia and Lake Mary in Mississippi will experience water problems.
Police Jury Road Supervisor Jackie Pugh said several roads are closed due to high water in areas outside the levees on the old rivers at Deer Park and Vidalia. Those roads include Fairview, Deer Park, South Prong, Old River Boat Camp and Minorca.
Sheriff Randy Maxwell said he has increased patrols of the levee roadways on Old River.
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