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|District, local officials 'gearing up' for flood fight|
The Fifth District Levee Board is "gearing up for a fight" as the Mississippi River at Vidalia is expected to reach a record level of 60 feet on May 20, according to board president Reynold Minsky.
"We've got a bad river coming," he said. "It will be a record breaker. But we think everything will be okay overall."
Flood stage at Vidalia is 48 feet. The river stage was at 45.6 feet on Monday.
The highest crest on record at Vidalia was 58.04 feet in February of 1937. The second-highest was 56.7 feet on May 13, 1973.
During the Great Flood of 1927 -- before the mainline Mississippi River was constructed -- the river crested at 56.60 feet.
Local officials met with Corps of Engineers' representatives from the Vicksburg District in Vidalia Wednesday morning to discuss the situation.
In Vidalia, Mayor Hyram Copeland said work will begin Monday to protect the Riverfront, including the convention center and the businesses located there.
"We met Tuesday with the department heads and have started our watch," he said. "We're going to block the drains to keep the water from coming in and will put pumps in to pump out the rain water. We're also going to secure our pumping stations."
Additionally, Copeland said the city will build a temporary levee "on the south end of the Riverfront to keep water from entering from the RV park. These are precautionary measures."
He said city workers will place sandbags around the convention center.
"We'll be constantly monitoring the situation and will be in touch with the Corps and other officials," said Copeland.
Riverfront Director H.L. Irvin said the convention center will continue its normal operations.
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