October 20, 2020

Corps closes key floodgate to prevent Mississippi River from pushing back into Delta

A floodgate in Mississippi is closed again to prevent the rising Mississippi River from spilling inland and worsening flooding in parts of the Mississippi Delta.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it closed the Steele Bayou floodgate north of Vicksburg on Saturday.

The gate first closed Feb. 15 and reopened April 1 to allow gradual drainage of the Yazoo Backwater area.

The Corps of Engineers still predicts water inside levees that protect the Delta will rise higher than this year’s earlier crest.

That produced the worst flooding in the region since 1973.

The flooding makes it unlikely Delta farmers will plant summer crops on hundreds of thousands of acres.

The Mississippi crested in Vicksburg at 51 feet in March, then fell, but has remained above flood stage in the area. The current forecast shows the river should reach 50 feet on the Vicksburg gauge on May 20.

South of Vicksburg in Natchez, the river crested at its third-highest level at 57.83 feet on March 12. Forecasters now predict the river will again rise to 57.2 feet on May 21. If that happens it would mark the fourth-highest level ever recorded.