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|Officials watching river stages|
Fifth District Levee Board President Reynold Minsky said Tuesday he doesn't ever recall river stages being this high in November but doesn't think there is any cause for alarm in northeastern Louisiana.
"We just have to be mindful," he said. "The Mississippi is exceptionally high and we have to watch what happens in the Ohio and Missouri valleys."
But there's one historical statistic that raises eyebrows.
Minsky said that on Nov. 12, 1926, the Mississippi River at Vicksburg was at 28 feet and the 1927 flood followed. Next week -- on Nov. 12 -- the Mississippi at Vicksburg is expected to reach 40 feet, 12 feet higher than same date reading in 1926.
"The river is following the same pattern as in 1926, but it's higher," said Minsky.
"We're ready to do a flood fight if we have to, but hopefully it won't come to that," he said. "We've fought floods the last two years. The one thing that is worrisome is our interior lakes and rivers. The Tensas is mighty high and we have to watch the Red River backwater area in Concordia."
"We having to close the flood gates and if we get a lot of rain we'll have to pump the water out," said Minsky. "We got a lot of water coming down the Red River and a lot of water coming down the Ouachita."
He said the Mississippi stood at 44.1 at Vidalia on Tuesday and is expected to reach 48 feet, flood stage, on Nov. 12.
Tensas Basin Levee District Executive Director John Stringer said the Ouachita is expected to crest at 48.5 feet at Monroe on Nov. 12th -- 8.5 feet above flood stage -- while the Black River below Jonesville at the locks and dam will crest on Nov. 10th at 51 feet, one foot above flood stage.
"The levees are designed to handle the kind of river crest expected," said Stringer.
He said the biggest problem in the district presently is at Columbia where high water is undercutting the bank in a sharp bend in the river.
"We're building a toe-dike and after the river goes down we may have to do some remedial work," he said. "We'll continue to make sure our levees are secure up and down the river."
He said commercial navigation is closed on the Ouachita from the Arkansas line southward to Columbia.
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