Mississippi Flood Waters Take Farms, Homes, Lives

April 16, 2008

In Mississippi, at least two people have died, dozens of farms and houses have been affected by flooding and the Mississippi River is still rising.

The river is not expected to crest until this weekend at levels not seen in years. Flooding is already blamed for two deaths in Tunica County in the northwest corner of the state.

Tommy Bonds, a 23-year-old man from Riverside, Calif., died April 11 while trying to put a plug in a capsized boat in his father’s yard, county spokesman Larry Liddel said. The body of James Paul Smith, 63, was found floating in the water April 3. Dozens of homes in the area have been evacuated.

“The areas behind the levee are under a voluntary evacuation order,” Liddel said. “Some people refuse to leave, but it’s voluntary.”

The rising water also created nightmares for some farmers and residents and shut down a casino in Natchez.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lea Stokes said 425 mobile homes and 188 houses have been affected by flooding, meaning they could be located in areas that are cut off by high water or have some minor damage. Sixty homes have major damage. However, it was not immediately clear how many of those were secondary homes. There are many hunting and fishing camps along the river and some of those houses are not used on a permanent basis.

The river is projected to crest Friday at 50.5 feet near the historic city of Vicksburg, which would be the river’s highest level there since 1983 and the seventh highest ever recorded, said Christopher Bannan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

In Natchez, the river is projected to crest Sunday at 56.5 feet, the forth highest on record and above the 56.3 feet it reached in 1997, Bannan said.

The Isle of Capri Casino in Natchez shut its doors early Sunday because the road leading to the gambling barge was closed by high water. It was not clear when it would reopen.

“The receding may take a while,” Stokes said. “It may be next week.”

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