November 30, 2020

Action, not talk, needed to form complete flood plan

Time for talk is over; we need action to complete flood plan

For U.S. Senators, a maiden speech is a cherished tradition and something very important to those elected to the Senate. As the name hints, senators only get one maiden speech, one first speech, on the floor of the Senate.

Many of us can remember our first kiss, the first time we drove a car and our first date. There’s a reason such firsts are so remembered.

For U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), her maiden speech came last week, and the main focus of that speech was the ongoing Mississippi River flood impacting the Delta, highlighting the plight of farmers through the region and those residents waging a war against water on Eagle Lake.

In her comments, Hyde-Smith was dynamic and powerful in the words she chose, and strong in her call to action.

“Today’s flooding in Mississippi should not be happening. It’s time for the federal government to step up and make good on its promises,” she said. “It’s time for the federal government to listen to the people in need of help — and to help them.”

Hyde-Smith, and other members of the state’s congressional delegation have been strong proponents of the Flood Control Act of 1941, which authorized a range of systematic flood control improvements in the Yazoo Backwater Area of levees, drainage channels, floodgates and pumping stations.

And, as the senator’s office again highlighted in a release following her speech, “all of these features have been completed other than the Yazoo Backwater pumping facility, which has resulted in catastrophic flooding inside the existing levee system due to the inability to remove water trapped on the protected side of the levees.”

In many ways, Mother Nature is going to do what Mother Nature is going to do. There’s nothing we can do to stop the rain, the wind or even the horror brought about by tornadoes or hurricanes.

That said, there are man-made solutions to man-made problems and the inability to finish the work planned out in 1941 is a man-made problem. Hindsight being 20-20, some of what we are battling today would have been prevented had we simply finished the plan laid out.

Would there be other problems? Very likely. Would all of the flooding have been prevented by finishing the plan? Probably not. But, something is better than nothing.

While we appreciate Hyde-Smith using her first speech on the floor of the Senate to bring attention to the problem, the time for speeches is over. What we need now is action.

The next step is legislation from one of our elected leaders — and it would be nice if someone representing the area introduced such legislation — to finish what was started so many years ago.

Completion of the project would still be years away, but it would be nice to know there’s at least a finish line to be crossed.

This editorial was originally published in The Vicksburg Post newspaper.